Treating menopause - MHT and beyond

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2022 Aug;18(8):490-502. doi: 10.1038/s41574-022-00685-4. Epub 2022 May 27.


Every woman who lives past midlife will experience menopause, which, by definition, is complete cessation of ovarian function. This process might occur spontaneously (natural menopause) or be iatrogenic (secondary menopause), and can be further classified as 'early' if it occurs before the age of 45 years and 'premature' if it occurs before the age of 40 years. Globally, the mean age of natural menopause is 48.8 years, with remarkably little geographic variation. A woman's age at menopause influences health outcomes in later life. Early menopause is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, but increased risks of premature osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and premature death. The cardinal symptoms of menopause, and adverse health sequelae, are due to loss of ovarian oestrogen production. Consequently, menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) that includes oestrogen or an oestrogenic compound ameliorates menopausal symptoms, while preventing menopause-associated bone loss and cardiometabolic changes. Importantly, comprehensive care of postmenopausal women involves lifestyle optimization (attention to nutrition and physical activity, reducing alcohol consumption and not smoking) and treating other established chronic disease risk factors. This Review offers a commentary specifically on the contemporary use of MHT and novel pharmaceutical alternatives to manage menopausal symptoms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged


  • Estrogens