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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Jun;76(6):1439-45.

A prospective, randomized trial of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist plus estrogen-progestin or progestin "add-back" regimens for women with leiomyomata uteri.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Treatment of women with myomas with GnRH agonists (GnRH-a) for 3-6 months will result in profound hypoestrogenism, a significant but temporary reduction in uterine volume, and menstrual suppression. Long-term (i.e. > 6 months) treatment with a GnRH-a is not recommended because of accelerated bone resorption and the presence of hypoestrogenic symptoms. In this 2-yr study, women with myomas were treated with GnRH-a plus one of two steroid "add-back" regimens to minimize adverse sequelae of chronic hypoestrogenism. Fifty-one premenopausal women with large, symptomatic uterine myomas all received the GnRH-a, leuprolide acetate depot (LAD), every 4 weeks for 12 weeks at which time the women were randomized to receive LAD plus either an estrogen-progestin or progestin-only add-back regimen for an additional 92 weeks. Efficacy parameters assessed included serial uterine volumes, hemoglobin concentrations, and hematocrits; safety parameters evaluated included serial bone mineral density measurements, lipid profiles, and medication-related symptoms. This report analyzes the first 52 weeks of study data. Mean uterine volume decreased to 64% of pretreatment size at 12 weeks of LAD treatment in both groups. The estrogen-progestin add-back group had no significant regrowth of uterine volume, which was 75% of pretreatment size at treatment week 52; in contrast, the progestin add-back group had a mean uterine volume of 92% of pretreatment size by treatment week 52. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in mean hemoglobin concentrations and hematocrits. The progestin add-back group had a significant decline in mean high density lipoprotein-cholesterol concentration, which was not seen in the estrogen-progestin add-back group. Finally, after a significant 3% bone loss during the first 12 weeks of treatment, bone mineral density stabilized in both add-back regimen groups. GnRH-a/steroid add-back regimens provide a useful long-term treatment strategy in women with large, symptomatic uterine myomas and may obviate the need for surgical intervention in selected cases. The estrogen-progestin add-back regimen was superior or equal to the progestin add-back regimen in all efficacy and safety parameters assessed.

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