Some women who use a combination of estrogen and progestin to control the symptoms of menopause might find symptoms return when they stop the hormones, according to the latest findings from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a major clinical trial of the risks and benefits of menopausal hormone therapy supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Of those women in the study who had symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, pain, or stiffness when the study started, more than half found that these symptoms came back when they stopped menopausal hormone therapy. A smaller percentage who did not have symptoms before developed them after stopping the hormones. Women stopped using the study pills when the trial was halted in July 2002 following the discovery that the risks of using these hormones, including increased heart disease, outweighed the benefits such as prevention of fractures. Women who described their symptoms as moderate to severe before the study were more likely to have them come back than women with mild symptoms. These study results is reported by Judith K. Ockene, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and other WHI investigators in the July 13, 2005, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Detailed information on menopause may be found in the NIAs brochure, Menopause: One Womans Story, Every Womans Story and its updates, http://www.niapublications.org/pubs/menopause/index.asp.
An NHLBI fact sheet on menopausal hormone therapy is available online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/pht_facts.htm.
To reach Dr. Sherry Sherman, Project Official of NIAs Study of Womens Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and Planning Chair of NIHs recent State-of-the-Science Conference on Management of Menopause-Related Symptoms, please contact the NIA Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-1752. To reach Dr. Ockene, lead author of the new study, call Kelly Bishop at 508-856-2000. For contact information for the WHI investigators, contact the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Communications Office at 301-496-4236.
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