Had time to read the latest journals? Catch up on some recent research by reading these mini-reviews by Dr Brett Daniels.
Following the release of the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002, there was a 55 per cent decrease in the number of Australian women taking menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by 2005. According to the authors of this study, there has been no publication of the prevalence of HRT use in menopausal women in Australia since the National Health Survey of 2004–05. In addition to addressing the lack of data since 2005, the authors also sought to determine the number of women using bioidentical HRT, which generally uses plant-derived progesterone and oestrogens, often in an individualised dose in a troche or cream.
This study reports on a cross-sectional sample of 4389 women aged 50–69 who received a questionnaire regarding HRT use, menopause and other health and demographic data. Women were randomly selected for invitation into the study from the Australian Medicare database. Of the total sample, 38 per cent had ever used HRT with 13 per cent currently using it at the time of the study. This is similar to the rate reported in 2005; 19 per cent of women had used HRT for less than a total of five years, while 17 per cent using it for longer than five years. The most common types of HRT used were systemic oestrogen (13%), combined oestrogen and progesterone (5%), tibolone (3%), other including topical oestrogen (4%) and 14 per cent were unable to recall the type of HRT they had used. Eight per cent of the women surveyed had ever used bioidentical HRT and two per cent were using it at the time of the study. One interesting result was that, in women with an intact uterus, systemic oestrogen-only HRT was used in 20 per cent of these women, second only to combined oestrogen and progesterone, a surprising result given the association between unopposed oestrogen and endometrial cancer. The authors concluded that the rate of HRT use in women in Australia has remained stable over the last 10 years.1