New Hope for Menopausal Hormone Therapy

I normally cringe when I see media coverage on menopausal hormone therapy. The use of hormones to treat perimenopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, has been drastically underused, following misinterpretation and media hyperbole about findings form the Women’s Health Initiative study published in the ’90s.

I won’t go into it here, but suffice to say the risk of hormone therapy, especially breast cancer, has been overblown, resulting in a generation of women untreated and suffering unnecessarily. The nuances of the findings, and subsequent longer term data, are far more complicated than media care to report. And, unfortunately, misinformation persists among medical professionals.

This is why I was elated to read a fresh review article in the CMAJ and accompanying media coverage. The authors do an admirable job explaining the original concerns, while conveying the importance of using hormone therapy in a thoughtful and practical way. Particularly important is the comparison of risk of treating versus the risk of not treating.

In my practice, I see many women in their 40s and 50s with reduced quality of life, sleep deprivation, mood disturbances, and stress related to perimenopausal symptoms. Left untreated, symptoms lead to worse cardiometabolic health and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

I encourage women and their medical professionals to familiarize themselves with this fresh look at menopausal hormone therapy and to open the conversation about its potential benefits.