Low-dose paroxetine (7.5 mg) improves sleep in women with vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause

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Abstract

Objective

Sleep disturbances are common among women in midlife; prevalence increases among perimenopausal/postmenopausal women with vasomotor symptoms. Paroxetine 7.5 mg is the only nonhormonal treatment that has been approved in the United States for moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. In two pivotal phase 3 studies evaluating its efficacy and safety, improvements in sleep disturbances were also prospectively evaluated.

Methods

Postmenopausal women with moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms were randomly assigned to paroxetine 7.5 mg (n = 591) or placebo (n = 593) once daily for 12 weeks (both studies) or 24 weeks (24-wk study). Predefined assessments on weeks 4, 12, and 24 included number of nighttime awakenings attributed to vasomotor symptoms, sleep-onset latency, sleep duration, and sleep-related adverse events. The two studies’ data for weeks 1 to 12 were pooled.

Results

At baseline, participants reported a mean of 3.6 awakenings/night attributed to vasomotor symptoms. Nighttime awakenings attributed to vasomotor symptoms were significantly reduced within 4 weeks of initiating paroxetine 7.5 mg treatment (39% reduction vs 28% for placebo; P = 0.0049), and reductions were sustained through 12 or 24 weeks of treatment. Paroxetine 7.5 mg treatment also significantly increased nighttime sleep duration (week 4, +31 vs +16 min for placebo; P = 0.0075), but no significant between-group differences in sleep-onset latency or sleep-related adverse events such as sedation were observed.

Conclusions

In postmenopausal women treated for menopausal vasomotor symptoms, paroxetine 7.5 mg significantly reduces the number of nighttime awakenings attributed to vasomotor symptoms and increases sleep duration without differentially affecting sleep-onset latency or sedation.

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