Management of Menopause When Estrogen Cannot Be Used

(1990) Drugs 40 (2) :220-230. Young R., Kumar, N., Goldzieher, J.

Estrogen deficiency, whether surgically induced or as a consequence of natural ovarian failure, has destructive effects on many organ systems. With current levels of life expectancy, untreated women may expect to spend a third of their lifetime in this state. Appropriate estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can avert (if started promptly) or ameliorate these devastating consequences, some of which (osteoporotic fractures, increased cardiovascular morbidity) can be lethal. Nevertheless, from 10 to 20% of postmenopausal women may have significant contraindications to ERT. Treatment of symptoms and improving the quality of life is imperative, yet many physicians abjure intervention, for reasons which are not entirely clear. Recent studies of conventional intervention with sedatives or tranquillisers show results equivalent to placebo therapy. On the other hand, specific agents with demonstrated effectiveness are available for management of the major estrogen-deficiency effects, although none of them are truly adequate replacement for the effect of estrogen itself.