Hormone health highlights in honor of World Menopause Day
Friday marks the 10th anniversary of World Menopause Day, established by the International Menopause Society to show support for women worldwide and recognize the challenges of menopausal symptoms and related conditions.
There have been significant advances in menopause-related research during the past decade, leading to a greatly increased public awareness of the condition. Still, experts caution that much work remains to be done.
“Unfortunately, women’s health research outside of breast cancer and infertility/perinatal research remains sorely underfunded,” Susan Davis, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, FAHMS, a professor in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, Australia, and president of the International Menopause Society, told Endocrine Today. “Hence there are still huge knowledge gaps pertaining to menopause and sex steroids in midlife and older women.”
Spontaneous menopause is a natural component of a woman’s life span, Davis said; however, an estimated 10% of women experience menopause because of surgical removal of their ovaries or as a consequence of cancer treatment, and up to 2% of women will experience menopause before age 40 years. The onset of menopause can bring with it a host of unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood changes and vaginal dryness, in addition to bone loss and metabolic changes. Despite advances in research, optimal treatment for menopausal symptoms remains a matter of debate, Davis said.
“We lack knowledge of the overall effects of what is now considered the optimal treatment for menopausal symptoms, such as non-oral estradiol, plus or minus progesterone therapy,” Davis said. “There is an urgent need for a large randomized controlled trial of the benefits and risks of nonoral ‘body identical’ HT for women from the time of natural menopause to guide clinical practice.”
In honor of World Menopause Day, Endocrine Today compiled a list of the latest research in hormone health news.
Experts debate new analysis concerning breast cancer risk with menopausal HT
A recent meta-analysis of nearly 60 epidemiologic studies suggests that women who initiated systemic hormone therapy around the time of menopause were at greater risk for invasive breast cancer than similar never-users, with some excess risk persisting more than a decade after stopping therapy. The analysis, which evaluated findings from large observational studies, also suggests that increased risk for breast cancer doubles for women who used hormone therapy for 10 years vs. 5 years.
Nonhormonal drug reduces hot flash severity, symptoms in menopause
Menopausal women experiencing moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms randomly assigned to an oral, nonhormonal compound for 12 weeks experienced fewer weekly hot flashes and reduced symptom severity across doses compared with similar women assigned placebo, according to findings presented at the North American Menopause Society annual meeting.
Vaginal laser, estrogen treatments similarly improve menopausal symptoms
Laser therapy is as effective and safe as vaginal estrogen for improving sexual and urinary functionality during menopause, according to findings from a randomized controlled trial.
Estrogen exposure influences cognitive status in late life
Longer endogenous estrogen exposure and use of hormone therapy are associated with higher cognitive status in late life, especially among older women when compared with younger women, according to findings published in Menopause.
Custom-compounded bioidentical HT for menopause symptoms may yield ‘ abnormally high ’ hormone levels
Pellet hormone therapy, a solid custom-compounded bioidentical estrogen therapy that is inserted under the skin, may be less safe than FDA-approved HT therapies for postmenopausal women, according to findings presented at the North American Menopause Society annual meeting. Researchers found substantially increased serum estradiol and total testosterone levels associated with pellet HT.
READ – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosure: Davis is president of the International Menopause Society.