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Major Study Shows Benefits from Hormone Replacement Therapy E-mail
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A major international study of the effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use on quality of life has shown that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use can significantly improve well-being in women with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. The results of the WISDOM study was published on on Friday 22 August 2008. This study looked at health-related quality of life in 5692 healthy women aged 50–69 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The International Menopause Society notes that the study reported that about 3 out of 4 women, who complained of night sweats and hot flushes, found that these symptoms had vanished after a year of HRT use. Even in women who were well past menopause and did not suffer hot flushes, there was a noted improvement in sleep, sexuality and joint pain as a result of HRT use.

Speaking for the International Menopause Society, Dr Roger Lobo (Columbia University, New York) said: “This report from WISDOM is reassuring that there are real benefits for some women electing to use HRT. While it has been well established that quality-of-life measures are improved in younger symptomatic women, this paper adds some information that even older women may benefit. While some of this information was reported from the WHI, which used the same hormonal regimen, more sensitive instruments were used in WISDOM which was able to show improvements in other measures such as sexual function. While this is important information and is reassuring regarding the benefits of HRT, these findings in isolation are not an indication to initiate hormones in asymptomatic older women for the first time.”

Dr David Sturdee (Solihull, UK), President of the International Menopause Society, said:
“This is a significant study, which supports our views on HRT. It shows that HRT can offer real benefits to most women experiencing menopausal symptoms. Our advice remains the same: each woman is an individual, and she needs to discuss what’s right for her with her doctor, in the light of her medical history. This study reinforces the benefits of appropriate use.”

The International Menopause Society (IMS) is the major international body working with menopause-related medicine. The IMS’s view is that HRT use can benefit women experiencing symptoms associated with the menopause, for example hot flushes, night sweats, aching joints and muscles, insomnia, and vaginal dryness. Evidence shows that HRT use is generally safe for healthy women going through the menopause. Health risks of HRT use rise slightly after the age of around 59. However, each woman needs to discuss her own medical circumstances with her doctor before deciding on HRT use.

Note: The WISDOM trial was halted early when another trial, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which also initiated HRT on average 13 years after menopause, found that elderly women taking HRT had more heart attacks than non-HRT users. This was not seen when HRT was initiated near menopause, which is the common time of use.

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