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Hormone Therapy May Work Only for These Women

Study finds gains in memory, sleep and focus aren't universal

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Hormone therapy helps with menopause-related symptoms such as sleep and memory problems only if a woman also has hot flashes, according to new research.

The study included 150 Finnish women who had recently gone through menopause. Of those, 72 had seven or more moderate-to-severe hot flashes a day, while 78 had three or fewer mild hot flashes daily or no hot flashes.

In each group, half of the women were treated for six months with hormone therapy of various kinds, while the other half were given an inactive placebo with no hormones, according to the study published online Nov. 13 in the journal Menopause.

Among women with moderate-to-severe hot flashes, hormone therapy helped with menopause-related symptoms such as insomnia, memory and concentration problems, anxiety and fear, exhaustion, irritability, swelling, joint and muscle pain, hot flashes, vaginal dryness and general health, the investigators found.

However, hormone therapy provided no such benefits for women with mild or no hot flashes, the findings showed.

"There has been a long debate over this issue. This new, well-designed study puts forth good evidence that hormone therapy does not improve quality of life in recently menopausal women who do not have numerous hot flashes," Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a society news release.

Hot flashes are episodes of intense, spreading heat experienced by some women after their monthly periods stop. Changing hormone levels are believed to cause hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

The researchers noted that the women in the study were white, healthy and lean, so the results may not apply to women in other racial/ethnic groups or those with other health conditions.

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