Clinical Review

Focus on menopause

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The annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society featured several presentations aimed at educating attendees on hormone therapy, an on-the-horizon nonhormonal option for hot flashes, and multiethnic differences in the menopause experience



OBG Management caught up with Drs. Jan Shifren and Genevieve Neal-Perry while they were attending the annual meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), held October 12-15, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Shifren presented on the “Ins and Outs of Hormone Therapy,” while Dr. Neal-Perry focused on “Menopause Physiology.”

Evaluating symptomatic patients for appropriate hormone therapy

OBG Management: In your presentation to the group at the NAMS meeting, you described a 51-year-old patient with the principal symptoms of frequent hot flashes and night sweats, sleep disruption, fatigue, irritability, vaginal dryness, and dyspareunia. As she reported already trying several lifestyle modification approaches, what are your questions for her to determine whether hormone therapy (HT), systemic or low-dose vaginal, is advisable?

Jan Shifren, MD: As with every patient, you need to begin with a thorough history and confirm her physical exam is up to date. If there are concerns related to genitourinary symptoms of menopause (GSM), then a pelvic exam is indicated. This patient is a healthy menopausal woman with bothersome hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Sleep disruption from night sweats is likely the cause of her fatigue and irritability, and her dyspareunia due to atrophic vulvovaginal changes. The principal indication for systemic HT is bothersome vasomotor symptoms (VMS), and a healthy woman who is under age 60 or within 10 years of the onset of menopause is generally a very good candidate for hormones. For this healthy 51-year-old with bothersome VMS unresponsive to lifestyle modification, the benefits of HT should outweigh potential risks. As low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy is minimally absorbed and very safe, this would be recommended instead of systemic HT if her only menopause symptoms were vaginal dryness and dyspareunia.

HT types and formulations

OBG Management: For this patient, low-dose vaginal estrogen is appropriate. In general, how do you decide on recommendations for combination therapy or estrogen only, and what formulations and dosages do you recommend?

Dr. Shifren: Any woman with a uterus needs to take a progestogen together with estrogen to protect her uterus from estrogen-induced endometrial overgrowth. With low dose vaginal estrogen therapy, however, concurrent progestogen is not needed.

Continue to: Estrogen options...


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