Skip to content

    Menopause Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    HRT Does Little for Quality of Life

    Small Differences Seen in Physical Functioning, Pain, and Sleep
    By
    WebMD Health News

    May 7, 2003 -- A cloud of confusion has surrounded HRT since last July, when women learned that hormones are linked to heart disease, breast cancer, and strokes. Now, researchers reveal that HRT does little to improve quality of life.

    Their conclusion: Unless you need relief of menopausal symptoms, there's no benefit of HRT on quality of life. The benefit of progestin-estrogen therapy must be weighed against the risk of such therapy for each individual.

    Their study appears in the May 8 edition of TheNew England Journal of Medicine and was released early on March 14 because of the importance of the findings. This study follows on the heels of research released last summer -- in a study called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) -- in which researchers reported an increased risk of heart attack, breast cancer, and stroke in women taking the combination progestin-estrogen therapy. Those findings prompted the National Institutes of Health to halt the study nearly three years early.

    Today's message: "For the vast majority of women, hormones do not change quality of life," lead researcher Jennifer Hays, MD, director of the Center for Women's Health at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told WebMD when the study results were first released in March.

    In this study, Hays and colleagues analyzed information on all 16,608 postmenopausal women -- all between 50 and 79 years old -- who had randomly been assigned to take either daily progestin-plus-estrogen therapy or placebo.

    After one year, women were asked questions about their general health, mental and physical health, limitations due to their physical or emotional health, bodily pain, energy and fatigue, social functioning, depression, memory, sleep disturbance, and satisfaction with sexual functioning.

    The results "shocked" Hays and her colleagues. "The differences between the two groups were almost imperceptible," she said. Only small differences in physical functioning, bodily pain, and sleep disturbances in women taking daily combination hormone replacement were found.

    Researchers also analyzed data on quality of life in subgroups of women -- those who were youngest (between ages 50 and 59) and most likely to have menopause-related symptoms, and those who had reported the most severe hot flashes.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    woman walking outdoors
    How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
    mature woman holding fan in face
    Symptoms and treatments.
     
    woman hiding face behind hands
    11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    senior couple
    Video
    mature woman shopping for produce
    Article
     
    Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
    Article
    mature couple on boat
    Article
     
    mature woman tugging on her loose skin
    Slideshow
    senior woman wearing green hat
    Article
     
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
    supplements
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections