Harvard Women's Health Watch

Perimenopause, hormones, and midlife health

Hormone researchers are shifting some of their attention from menopause to the years that precede it.

Research about midlife health and hormones has produced some apparently confusing results. The best-known example involves hormone therapy and the heart. Many large studies like the Nurses' Health Study had suggested that it protected against heart disease. But in 2002, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) came to the opposite conclusion. Since then, however, new analyses of these data indicate that hormone therapy used in perimenopause and for 10 years after menopause may benefit the heart, but if used later than this increases the risk of heart disease.

A number of smaller studies have also begun to shed light on the years leading up to menopause. Here are some examples of these new lines of inquiry.

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