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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Jun;180(6 Pt 1):1504-11.

Percutaneous absorption of progesterone in postmenopausal women treated with transdermal estrogen.

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Department of Obstetrics, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, USA.



The objective of this study was to evaluate the serum levels of progesterone resulting from the application of a progesterone cream to the skin.


Six postmenopausal women were evaluated at a university clinic over a 4-week period.


Transdermal estradiol 0.05 mg was applied 2 days before the first application of progesterone (30 mg/d) and was continued throughout the study. Patches were changed twice a week. Progesterone cream was applied once a day for 2 weeks. On day 15 and for the next 2 weeks, the progesterone cream was applied twice daily (60 mg/d). Serum 17beta-estradiol and progesterone were measured at 9 different times over a 24-hour period on day 1 and at weekly intervals for the 4-week duration of the study. Serum 17beta-estradiol concentrations varied among women, with mean concentrations of 40 to 64 pg/mL observed. Consistency in 17beta-estradiol concentrations was found within individual persons throughout the study. Serum progesterone concentrations also varied among women, with mean concentrations ranging from 1.6 to 3.3 ng/mL. After 2 weeks of percutaneous dosing, progesterone concentrations were sustained for at least 8 hours and were consistent within a given person. An appropriate increase in progesterone concentration occurred after 4 weeks compared with 2 weeks of application. Individually, a 0.53 correlation, significant at P <.0001, was seen between the absorption of 17beta-estradiol and progesterone.


Significant increases in serum concentrations of progesterone were observed in all of the women studied. The percutaneous absorption of progesterone correlates strongly with the absorption of transdermal 17beta-estradiol. There is variance in absorption of progesterone just as with 17beta-estradiol, and the 2 measures are closely correlated. The percutaneous application of progesterone cream appears to be a safe and effective route of administration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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