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Menopause

Better Studies Needed

Virtually millions of women must decide how best to approach the symptoms of menopause and life after menopause every year. There were 473 million women 50 or over in the world in 1990. But relatively little research has been conducted concerning the long-term health consequences of estrogen or estrogen and progesterone therapy in women or about other ways to address menopausal symptoms. There has never been a large-scale, long term study of estrogen and progesterone supplements which included scientifically selected individuals for control group and treatment groups. This means that the results of much current research is suspect.

The United States government is currently conducting a study with nine years of follow-up which will examine the effect of hormone replacement therapy on the prevention of heart disease and osteoporosis. The study is expected to enroll 63,000 women ages 50-79, and will include scientifically selected control and treatment groups.

Other research must also be conducted concerning alternative therapy for menopause and a variety of issues linked to health risk and the duration of hormone therapy use. In 1994, the World Health Organization scientific group announced a series of recommendations for research concerning physical and psychological aspects of menopause. Such research studies are ongoing.


Resources

Books

Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Deirdre English. For Her Own Good. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Greer, Germaine. The Change. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Sheehy, Gail. The Silent Passage: Menopause. New York: Random House, 1992.

Weed, Susan S. New Menopausal Years. The Wise Woman's Way: New Approaches for Women 30-90. Ashcroft, BC: Ash Tree Press, 2001.

Periodicals

Fackelmann, Kathleen. "Forever Smart: Does Estrogen Enhance Memory?" Science News 147: 74-75.

Te Velde, Egbert R., and Huub A.I.M Van Leusden. "Hormonal treatment for the Climacteric: Alleviation of Symptoms and Prevention of Postmenopausal Disease." The Lancet 343 (March 12, 1994): 654-657.

Other

"WHO Scientific Group Formulates New Research Agenda on Menopause." Public Health Reports. 109, no. 5 (September-October 1994): 715.


Patricia Braus

KEY TERMS

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Endometrium

—The blood-rich interior lining of the uterus.

Estrogen

—Female sex hormones, responsible for development of sex characteristics and for preparation of environment for the early embryo.

Osteoporosis

—A disease which occurs primarily in women in which the mass of the bones is reduced, making it easier for fractures to occur.

Progesterone

—Hormone which plays a critical role in preparing the body for a developing embryo.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mathematics to Methanal trimerMenopause - A Nineteenth-century Term, A New Era, Better Studies Needed