Intended for healthcare professionals


HRT and breast cancer risk

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 11 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l5928
  1. Janice Rymer, vice president,
  2. Kate Brian, women’s voices lead,
  3. Lesley Regan, president
  1. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: J Rymer janice.rymer{at}

We must prevent another setback in women’s health

In the UK, most women go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being 51 years. Around half of women experience some physical or emotional symptoms from the decrease in ovarian function, including hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, anxiety, joint and muscle pain, vaginal dryness, decreased sex drive, and hip fractures in later life.

Every woman experiences the menopause differently. Although for many women this natural transition may be relatively straightforward, in around 25% the symptoms have a substantial or debilitating effect on their personal and professional lives.1 Unfortunately, only a minority of women seek help to manage symptoms, often because they do not know who best to approach or because misinformation has led to fear of treatment.

About one million women in the UK currently use hormone replacement therapy (HRT),2 the most commonly prescribed treatment for the symptoms of ovarian failure. HRT can bring many benefits, improving quality of life and offering protection against bone loss and fragility fractures.2

Not all women can take, or choose to …

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