Harvard Women's Health Watch

Hormone therapy: A new consensus

To mark the 10-year anniversary of the controversy surrounding the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), the North American Menopause Society and 14 other medical organizations jointly released a statement in July reinforcing the benefits of hormone therapy for menopause symptoms. In July 2002, the WHI trial of estrogen plus progestin was halted early, after investigators discovered that the risks of hormone therapy—which include breast cancer, strokes, and heart disease—outweighed the benefits.

The new joint statement was meant to ease some of the confusion menopausal women have faced over the last decade. The organizations jointly conclude that hormone therapy is still safe—provided that women take it early in menopause (up to age 59 or within 10 years after their menopause starts) and use it for the shortest possible period of time. "We want women to know that there are options out there for relief of their menopausal symptoms. The level of risk depends on the individual, her health history, age, and the number of years since her menopause began," Dr. Janet Hall, immediate past president of the Endocrine Society, said in a statement.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »