Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Menopausal Hormone Therapy: A New Debate

Many Older Women Are Restarting Therapy After Menopausal Symptoms Return
WebMD Health News

July 12, 2005 -- Seventy-four-year-old Marilyn Bayer had been taking estrogen for almost 20 years when the Women's Health Initiative trial was abruptly halted three years ago.

The study was stopped because it found that hormone therapy did not prevent heart disease in older women. The study also showed an increased risk of strokes, blood clots, and breast cancer.

Bayer says she stopped hormone therapy "cold turkey" on the advice of her doctor following the publication of the study's initial results. But even though she was decades past menopause, her menopausal symptoms returned with a vengeance and they did not go away with time.

"The hot flashes were bothersome, but it was the night sweats and insomnia that really drove me crazy," she tells WebMD. "Suddenly, I had a hard time going to sleep and I couldn't stay asleep very long."

The Worcester, Mass., woman had had enough when her doctor put her back on estrogen last year, although at a much lower dosage than she had been on before.

The low-dose hormone therapy seems to be helping, but she is still troubled by the menopausal symptoms that she had hoped would by now be a distant memory.

"I thought that going off hormones wouldn't be that big of a deal for me, because I was past 70," she says. "But both my mother and grandmother had hot flashes until the day they died."

'Absolutely Desperate'

It seems that Bayer's story is not that unusual. Although exact figures are hard to pin down, it is believed that millions of middle-aged and elderly women stopped hormone therapy soon after the WHI findings made headlines in July 2002.

Wulf Utian, MD, PhD, tells WebMD that he believes about a third of them later went back on some form of hormones -- usually lower doses than they were previously taking -- because their hot flashes and other symptoms returned. Utian is president of the North American Menopause Society and is a professor of gynecology at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.

"I saw so many patients who were at wit's end when they stopped hormone therapy," he tells WebMD. "They were absolutely desperate."

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.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections