Over the past 20 years there has been increasing interest in the menopause and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). More recently, postmenopausal HRT has been seen as a specific treatment for symptoms in the short term and preventative therapy in the long term. Women must be counselled regarding the risks and benefits of HRT according to the best available evidence. The patient should also be actively involved in the decision regarding HRT therapy, which should then improve patient compliance. Generally, an appropriate regimen of HRT can be formulated for the majority of patients. Progestogen should be added to therapy in women with an intact uterus in a cyclical or continuous regimen. The management of common estrogenic and progestogenic adverse effects is important in improving compliance. At present, new drugs are being developed for the management of the menopause (selective estrogen receptor modulators and phytoestrogens). Obviously, further research will be necessary to determine whether these drugs have advantages over regular HRT. By offering postmenopausal women HRT an attempt is made to optimise their physical and psychological well-being. However, HRT is not without adverse effects, the most worrying of which is the possible increase in breast cancer risk with long term use. However, with patient education efforts, treatment regimens acceptable to both patient and practitioner can be initiated; in this regard, the aim of the practitioner should be to help the menopausal woman make the decision which is the most appropriate for her.