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Estrogen patch counters eating disorders in women athletes



Seventy OA women were then randomized to three groups: 25 to physiological estrogen replacement with an estradiol patch and cyclic progesterone for 12 days/month; 19 to replacement with contraceptive pills on the standard monthly schedule; and 26 to no replacement.

Over 12 months, women on the patch dropped their drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and uncontrolled eating scores. Body dissatisfaction scores on the Eating Disorder Inventory–2, for example, fell about two points, compared with staying about the same in the pill group and increasing by about two points in the no-estrogen group.

The pill seemed to help a bit on some measures, too, but the benefit of the pill versus that of no estrogen wasn’t generally statistically significant. Meanwhile, symptoms worsened in women who didn’t get estrogen. “The practice right now is the pill. We are shifting our practice with these data to the patch,” Dr. Singhal said.

Overall, “these findings emphasize the importance of normalizing estrogen levels in this population,” she and her colleagues concluded.

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