Clinical update

Menopause

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation and loss of reproductive function. In the UK the average age of menopause is 51. Currently around a million women in the UK use treatment to relieve menopausal symptoms, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Essential facts

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation and loss of reproductive function. In the UK the average age of menopause is 51. Currently around a million women in the UK use treatment to relieve menopausal symptoms, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Two large studies – published in 2002 and 2003 – raised concerns about the safety of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in relation to breast cancer and heart disease, leading to new guidance on prescribing. As a result, the number of women taking HRT fell by 66%, says Women’s Health Concern.

New NICE guidance, published last week, emphasises that for most women, HRT is an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats and low mood, and also reduces the risk of osteoporotic fracture. The guideline says oestrogen-only HRT is associated with little or no increase in the incidence of breast

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