Phytoestrogens as alternative hormone replacement therapy in menopause: What is real, what is unknown

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014 Sep;143:61-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.01.016. Epub 2014 Feb 28.


Menopause is characterized by an altered hormonal status and by a decrease in life quality due to the appearance of uncomfortable symptoms. Nowadays, with increasing life span, women spend one-third of their lifetime under menopause. Understanding menopause-associated pathophysiology and developing new strategies to improve the treatment of menopausal-associated symptoms is an important topic in the clinic. This review describes physiological and hormone alterations observed during menopause and therapeutic strategies used during this period. We critically address the benefits and doubts associated with estrogen/progesterone-based hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and discuss the use of phytoestrogens (PEs) as a possible alternative. These relevant plant-derived compounds have structural similarities to estradiol, interacting with cell proteins and organelles, presenting several advantages and disadvantages versus traditional HRT in the context of menopause. However, a better assessment of PEs safety/efficacy would warrant a possible widespread clinical use.

Keywords: Hormone replacement therapy; Menopause; Phytoestrogens; Toxicology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Phytoestrogens / therapeutic use*


  • Phytoestrogens