Percutaneous absorption of progesterone in postmenopausal women treated with transdermal estrogen

K. A. Burry, P. E. Patton, K. Hermsmeyer, W. C. Weiderman, J. C. Caillouette, M. M. Plaut, J. R. Lamey, T. Holbert, M. L. Schwartz

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41 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate the serum levels of progesterone resulting from the application of a progesterone cream to the skin. STUDY DESIGN: Six postmenopausal women were evaluated at a university clinic over a 4-week period. RESULTS: 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 17β-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 17β-estradiol concentrations varied among women, with mean concentrations of 40 to 64 pg/mL observed. Consistency in 17β-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 17β-estradiol and progesterone. CONCLUSION: 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 17β-estradiol. There is variance in absorption of progesterone just as with 17β-estradiol, and the 2 measures are closely correlated. The percutaneous application of progesterone cream appears to be a safe and effective route of administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1504-1511
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Hormones
  • Progesterone
  • Transdermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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