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J Pharm Pract. 2012 Jun;25(3):324-30. doi: 10.1177/0897190012442064. Epub 2012 May 1.

Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT): refining our understanding of MHT research, optimally applying results, and considering the future of MHT.

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  • 1Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


The perceptions of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) have evolved considerably. Observational studies suggested that MHT could relieve vasomotor symptoms and prevent coronary heart disease (CHD). However, randomized controlled trials later showed no reduction in CHD and an increased risk of stroke. Subsequent analyses of these trials have shown that in women younger and closer to menopause, the risks associated with MHT may not be as great as originally thought. Several organizations, including the North American Menopause Society, the International Menopause Society, and the Endocrine Society, have published guidelines and statements that help health care providers translate the research findings into clinical practice. A common theme from these organizations is the need for health care providers to tailor information to their patients so they may make informed treatment decisions (especially considering the media attention MHT has received). It is particularly important to individualize therapy, considering patients' risk factors for atherosclerotic disease, venous thromboembolic disease, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. Ongoing research in women younger than those in prior trials is evaluating lower doses of MHT and directly comparing transdermal and oral formulations. Such research should help define the population of women most likely to benefit from MHT without undue risk of adverse outcomes.

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