News & Research

Keep up to date with all the current news and research surrounding menopause and women’s health issues.

Getting your period at a young age may mean early menopause, too

Can getting your period at a young age play a role in when you reach menopause? The average age of menopause is 51, however, for some women this can vary widely from between the age of 40 and 55. A study has found that those women who had started menstruating at 11 or younger were 80 percent more likely to have experienced early menopause than women who were 13 or over when their periods began. The risk was heightened among women who started their periods early and subsequently had no children; they had a fivefold increased risk for premature menopause and double the risk of early menopause compared with women whose periods had started at 12 or later and who had had two or more children.   Sources: Gita D. Mishra et al (Jan 2017) Early menarch, nulliparity and the risk for premature and early natural menopause. Retrieved on 6 February 2017. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/2937790/Early-menarche-nulliparity-and-the-risk-for      ...

Effect of HRT on Sleep Quality

Extract from The British Menopause Society. “Many women experience disturbed sleep as a menopausal symptom which can have a significant effect on mood and energy levels and cause distress. In addition poor sleep can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The role of HRT in improving sleep quality is unclear but a recently published review provides some clarity. The authors reviewed 42 trials which included 15,468 women. It was found that use of hormone therapy was associated with improved sleep quality in women who experienced vasomotor symptoms (flushes and sweats) but not in women who did not have such symptoms. This could mean that it is the vasomotor symptoms which may lead to disturbed, or poorer quality sleep, rather than estrogen deficiency in the absence of symptoms. Hence treatment of the vasomotor symptoms leads to improved sleep as a secondary effect. Since sleep complaints are reported by 40% to 60% of menopausal women, more research would be helpful”. Reference: Efficacy of menopausal hormone therapy on sleep quality: systematic review and meta-analysis. Cintron D, Lipford M, Larrea-Mantilla L et al. Endocrine, 2016 Related Articles: Menopause Insomnia Hot Flushes and Night Sweats Sources: Effect of HRT on Sleep Quality (Nov 2016) Retrieved on 28 November 2016. Retrieved from  https://thebms.org.uk/2016/11/effect-hrt-sleep-quality/ Efficacy of menopausal hormone therapy on sleep quality: systematic review and meta-analysis. (Retrieved Nov 2016) Retrieved from https://mayoclinic.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/efficacy-of-menopausal-hormone-therapy-on-sleep-quality-systemati    ...

Are Hot Flashes Genetic?

A team of UCLA-led researchers may have found a clue in a first-of-its-kind study: genes could be a factor in determining which women get hot flashes. It appears that women who have gene variants that affect a receptor in the brain that regulates estrogen release are more likely to have hot flashes than women who lack them. The study published in the Menopause Journal is a step that could lead to new treatments to relieve the symptom of hot flashes. Dr Carolyn Crandall, professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health service research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s principal investigator said “no previous studies have focused on how variants in women’s genes may be linked with hot flashes, and these results were highly statistically significant.” Furthermore, Dr Crandall said “these associations were similar across European-American, African-American and Hispanic-American women, and they persisted even after we accounted for other facts that might influence hot flashes.”   Sources: Rivero, E., (Oct 2016) Are hot flashes genetic? First-of-its-kind study finds gene variant linked to the symptom in menopausal women. Retrieved from http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/are-hot-flashes-genetic. Crandall, Carolyn J. MD, MS; Manson, JoAnn E. MD, DrPH; Hohensee, Chancellor MS; Horvath, Steve PhD, ScD; Wactawski-Wende, Jean PhD; LeBlanc, Erin S. MD, MPH; Vitolins, Mara Z. DrPH; Nassir, Rami PhD; Sinsheimer, Janet S. PhD. (Oct 2016) Association of genetic variation in the tachykinin receptor 3 locus with hot flashes and night sweats in the Women’s Health Initiative Study. Retrieved fromhttp://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Association_of_genetic_variation_in_the_tachykinin.97898.aspx    ...

Effect Of Combined HRT On Breast Cancer Risk

A Breast Cancer Now Study finds the effect of Combined HRT on breast cancer risk is likely to have been underestimated. The effect of combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in increasing a woman’s risk of breast cancer is likely to have been underestimated by a number of previous studies, according to a new prospective study published in the British Journal of Cancer, highlighted on the British Menopause Society Website on 23 August 2016. Women taking combined HRT are 2.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users, with risk increasing with longer HRT use, Breast Cancer Now Generations Study finds Study comprehensively updated information about women’s HRT use and analysed accurately to allow for age at menopause Research suggests many previous investigations which did not do so may have underestimated the increased risk of breast cancer by up to 60% The new research was part of the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study – a major prospective study led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, following more than 100,000 women for 40 years to investigate the causes of breast cancer. Some 39,000 women with a known age at menopause were identified and monitored for six years, with follow-up questionnaires gathering comprehensive data on any HRT use (type and duration) as well as their general health and lifestyle. During this time, 775 of these women developed breast cancer, with the researchers finding that women using combined HRT (for a median duration of 5.4 years) were 2.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer during the period of HRT use than women who had never used HRT. You...

What’s New About Menopause 2016?

  Written by Dr Karen Morton, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and Founder of Dr Morton’s – the medical helpline. Congratulations to the organisers of the British Menopause Society’s 26th Annual Conference at the Royal College of Physicians on Thursday and Friday 19 and 20 May 2016. Both content and organisation were excellent, and I am sure every one of the delegates: GPs, gynaecologists and Specialist nurses, will all have left London inspired to give their patients the most up to date advice and to become evangelists for optimising the health of women in their middle years and beyond. So What’s New About Menopause in 2016? What were the take-home messages? The title of the conference was ‘NICE Menopause Guideline: from publication into practice’, so clearly time was spent looking at the key messages from the 29 page NICE recommendation document which was published in the Autumn of 2015. But there were also several lectures on the periphery of what NICE looked at which gave out clear messages for change or enhancement of practice. For me the striking messages were: Women should talk about their problems and get help. Awareness of women’s needs at this time in their lives should have prominence in the workplace. More about this later. Good diet and lifestyle with regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake and not smoking are more important than anything else. OF course! Oestrogen-only HRT (only suitable for women who have had their uterus removed) causes no significant increase in breast cancer. If you have a uterus it must be protected with progestogen and after several years of taking it, this combination probably...

What Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMS) Can Do For You

There are many alternatives to hormone therapy for the treatment of hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. One you may not have heard about are Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMS). According to the North American Menopause Society NAMS, SERMS selectively activate or block estrogen receptors in certain areas of the body and not others which can make them safer than estrogen alone. There are currently FDA approved SERMS to selectively target, prevent and treat several diseases including breast cancer, osteoporosis and vaginal atrophy. At the time of writing SERMS for menopause have been launched in the US but not in the UK or the EU. Currently, there is no SERM that alone can relieve hot flashes, however, there is a SERM combination being used for hot flashes that combines estrogen with the SERM bazedoxifene. These drugs may be helpful for women with health concerns about hormone therapy but need relief from hot flashes, low bone mineral density, vaginal atrophy and bleeding. As with all medical treatment you should discuss any possible side effects with your Healthcare Professional. Here you will find a video of JoAnn Pinkerton, Executive Director of the North American Menopause Society NAMS discussing what SERMS are and how they can help you. You will also find a SERM’s FAQ page at this source.   Sources: The ABCs of SERMS. Retrieved from http://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopause-take-time-to-think-about-it What Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator (SERMS) Can Do For Your. Retrieved from...

Blood Clot Risk is lower for Estrogen-Only, Transdermal and Vaginal Estrogen Hormone Therapy

New research has found that blood clot risk is lower for estrogen-only, transdermal and vaginal estrogen hormone therapy, which is great news as the risk of blood clots in women increases with age. Menopause, The Journal of North American Menopause Society (NAMS)  has published new research from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm led by Dr. Annica Bergendal, which found that overall, estrogen-only therapy carries a lower risk of blood clots than treatment with a combination of estrogen and progestin, the synthetic version of progesterone. According to Science Daily the study highlights that the way estrogen is delivered may impact the risks.  There was no increased risk of VTE (venous thromboembolism) in this study for women who used transdermal estrogen (such as patches), either alone or in combination with a progestogen. And women who used vaginal estrogen alone to ease vaginal dryness and other symptoms of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) also had no increased risk of VTE. Many menopause experts don’t expect vaginal estrogen to raise the risk because absorption into the bloodstream is small and results in levels similar to those in postmenopausal women who use no hormones. But studies on this question have been rare, noted the authors, so this finding is a big help for decision making. This study adds to current knowledge that transdermal estrogen therapies are safer than oral and that different estrogen or progestogen combinations may have different risks.   Sources: Bergendal. A, MD., et al, (March 2016) Risk of venous thromboembolism associated with local and systematic use of hormone therapy in peri and postmenopaual women and in relations to type and route of administration. (Retrieved May...

Cardiovascular death risk after stopping HRT

A study from Finland following 332,202 women who stopped taking HRT between 1994 and 2009, reported an increase in mortality rate from cardiac death or stroke compared both to the baseline population and to women who continued taking HRT. There did appear to be an age effect with an increase in mortality shown if HRT stopped under age 60, but no increase if HRT stopped after age 60. This study adds to the increasing evidence that use of HRT up to the age of 60 provides many benefits and may be harmful to stop too early. Sources: News and Press Releases: Cardiovascular death risk after stopping HRT. Retrieved on 11 May 2016. Retrieved from http://www.thebms.org.uk/newsitem.php?newsid=91 Ref Mikkola TS, Tuomikoski P, Lyytinen H, et al. Increased cardiovascular mortality risk in women discontinuing postmenopausal hormone therapy. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015;100:4588-94      ...

Bone loss after stopping HRT

A 15 year follow up study from Finland has confirmed previous knowledge that that women who stop HRT experience loss of bone mineral density and increased risk of wrist fracture but has also shown that the longer that HRT has been taken, the less is the bone loss and less is risk of wrist fracture. Having taken HRT for only 5 years or less did not make any long term difference but HRT use for 10 years or more provided most benefit. Sources: News and Press Releases: Bone loss after stopping HRT. Retrieved on 11 May 2016. Retrieved from http://www.thebms.org.uk/newsitem.php?newsid=92 Ref Bone loss and wrist fractures after withdrawal of hormone therapy: The 15 year follow-up of the OSTPRE cohort. Saarelainen J et al. Maturitas 2016;85:49-55    ...
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