Menopausal hormone therapy and menopausal symptoms

Fertil Steril. 2014 Apr;101(4):905-15. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.02.032. Epub 2014 Mar 6.


A majority of women will experience bothersome symptoms related to declining and/or fluctuating levels of estrogen during their menopausal transition. Vasomotor symptoms, vaginal dryness, poor sleep, and depressed mood have all been found to worsen during the menopausal transition. While vasomotor symptoms gradually improve after menopause, the time course can be many years. Vaginal dryness does not improve without treatment, while the long-term course of sleep and mood deterioration is not clearly defined at this time. A small minority of women have vasomotor symptoms that persist throughout the remainder of their lives. These common menopausal symptoms all improve with estrogen treatment. Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed a dramatic reduction in enthusiasm for menopausal hormone therapy, despite its high efficacy relative to other treatments. We have also seen the emergence of sound, evidence-based clinical trials of non-hormonal alternatives that can control the common menopausal symptoms. Understanding the natural history of menopausal symptoms, and the risks and benefits of both hormonal and non-hormonal alternatives, helps the clinician individualize management plans to improve quality of life.

Keywords: Menopause; hormone therapy; vasomotor symptoms; vulvovaginal atrophy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / epidemiology
  • Hot Flashes / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Menopause / drug effects*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vulvodynia / epidemiology
  • Vulvodynia / prevention & control*
  • Women's Health / statistics & numerical data


  • Estrogens