Is there a role for menopausal hormone therapy in the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis?

Osteoporos Int. 2020 Dec;31(12):2271-2286. doi: 10.1007/s00198-020-05497-8. Epub 2020 Jul 8.


We provide an evidence base and guidance for the use of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) for the maintenance of skeletal health and prevention of future fractures in recently menopausal women. Despite controversy over associated side effects, which has limited its use in recent decades, the potential role for MHT soon after menopause in the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis is increasingly recognized. We present a narrative review of the benefits versus risks of using MHT in the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Current literature suggests robust anti-fracture efficacy of MHT in patients unselected for low BMD, regardless of concomitant use with progestogens, but with limited evidence of persisting skeletal benefits following cessation of therapy. Side effects include cardiovascular events, thromboembolic disease, stroke and breast cancer, but the benefit-risk profile differs according to the use of opposed versus unopposed oestrogens, type of oestrogen/progestogen, dose and route of delivery and, for cardiovascular events, timing of MHT use. Overall, the benefit-risk profile supports MHT treatment in women who have recently (< 10 years) become menopausal, who have menopausal symptoms and who are less than 60 years old, with a low baseline risk for adverse events. MHT should be considered as an option for the maintenance of skeletal health in women, specifically as an additional benefit in the context of treatment of menopausal symptoms, when commenced at the menopause, or shortly thereafter, in the context of a personalized benefit-risk evaluation.

Keywords: Cardiovascular; Epidemiology; Hormone therapy; Menopause; Osteoporosis; Safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal* / drug therapy


  • Estrogens