The Controversial History of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Medicina (Kaunas). 2019 Sep 18;55(9):602. doi: 10.3390/medicina55090602.


The history of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) started in the 1960s, with very high popularity in the 1990s. The first clinical trials on HRT and chronic postmenopausal conditions were started in the USA in the late 1990s. After the announcement of the first results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002, which showed that HRT had more detrimental than beneficial effects, HRT use dropped. The negative results of the study received wide publicity, creating panic among some users and new guidance for doctors on prescribing HRT. The clear message from the media was that HRT had more risks than benefits for all women. In the following years, a reanalysis of the WHI trial was performed, and new studies showed that the use of HRT in younger women or in early postmenopausal women had a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, reducing coronary disease and all-cause mortality. Notwithstanding this, the public opinion on HRT has not changed yet, leading to important negative consequences for women's health and quality of life.

Keywords: breast cancer; cardiovascular disease; hormone replacement therapy; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / history*
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause
  • United States
  • Women's Health