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Premature ovarian insufficiency: the need for evidence on the effectiveness of hormonal therapy

C E Upton 1J P Daniels 1M C Davies 2 3

Climacteric. 2021 Apr 30;1-6. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2021.1902496. 

Abstract

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) – the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40 years, a decade before natural menopause – is a life-changing diagnosis for women. POI causes significant short-term and long-term morbidity related to estrogen deficiency. The condition is managed by providing exogenous estrogen replacement, usually as the oral contraceptive pill or hormone therapy. These preparations have different estrogen formulations and may have differing benefits and risks. At present, there are no robust data to inform clinical recommendations and women’s decision-making about treatment that they may be taking for many years. The POISE study (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency Study of Effectiveness of hormonal therapy) has been designed to determine whether hormone therapy is superior to combined oral contraceptives on important clinical outcomes and patient-reported symptoms, based on the hypothesis that hormone therapy provides more physiological continuous hormone supplementation with natural estrogens. The study is an open and pragmatic, parallel, randomized controlled trial. The primary outcome is absolute bone mineral density assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry of the lumbar spine after 2 years of treatment. The study will also investigate cardiovascular markers, symptom relief and acceptability of treatment, and will continue to collect long-term data on fractures and cardiovascular events. Results will inform future guidance on management of POI.