The menopause revisited

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The continuing growth of female life expectancy has resulted in a marked increase of women in years beyond the menopause. Women can nowadays expect to live one-third of their lives in a potential hormonal deficiency state. Women over 50 comprise 17% of the total population of any country in the modern western world. Any decision regarding their health issues will have a great impact on our limited health care resources. There is no doubt that estrogen replacement therapy effectively mitigates hot flushes and other vasomotor symptoms and more effectively so than other treatment modalities. Vasomotor symptoms affect more than half of the female population around the menopause with a mean duration of 2-3 years. When used to treat vasomotor symptoms hormone replacement therapy has repeatedly been shown to be cost effective. It is also well documented that hormone replacement therapy effectively prevents bone loss and osteoporotic fractures as well as heart disease. The majority of cases of both fractures and heart disease occur at ages over 75 and concern has been expressed if treatment from the menopausal age to the onset of fractures or heart disease is cost effective with regard to the perceived increase in risk of side effects, especially breast cancer. One important aspect in this scenario is the control system that we impose on women on HRT. Given our present preparations women are recommended an annual check-up. If the number of office procedures and visits to the clinic cannot be substantially reduced long-term therapy with HRT is not cost effective. An exception from this rule is the treatment of urogenital estrogen deficiency using low dose vaginal estrogens. Systemic concentrations of estrogens following such administration are negligible. Hence, low dose estrogen topical applications can be made an OTC preparation. As no control system is needed this therapy seems to be highly cost effective. The pharmaceutical industry is urged to produce better products so that side effects such as bleeding problems leading to a number of visits to the clinic and fear of cancer among women can be avoided. Recent data also imply that estrogen treatment may confer protection against Alzheimer's disease. Breast cancer is the remaining controversy even if recent data imply that estrogens could be given to women operated on for breast cancer without increasing the risk of a relapse.


  • Göran Samsioe
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Menopause, Cost-benefit, Urogenital
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Publication categoryResearch