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Women with obesity have worse menopause symptoms and get less relief from hormone therapy

Obesity may worsen a woman’s menopause symptoms and limit the amount of relief she gets from hormone therapy (HT), according to the results of a study presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of The Menopause Society in Philadelphia, PA.

HT remains the most effective treatment to manage a wide array of menopause symptoms. Little research has been done, however, on the impact of comorbidities on the efficacy of HT during menopause. More specifically, no research is known to exist relative to the effect of obesity on the effectiveness of HT.

“We studied menopausal symptoms in an underrepresented patient population that’s not often included in women’s health studies,” said Dr Anita Pershad from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk who led the study. “This research can help clinicians serving a more diverse racial and socioeconomic patient population that’s severely affected by the social determinants of health to provide better tailored care and counselling to patients seeking treatment for their menopausal symptoms.”

This new five-year study involving 119 patients sought to fill some of that information void by investigating the association of obesity and self-reported efficacy of HT in peri- and post-menopausal women.

There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups of patients (obese vs. non-obese) relative to age, duration of menopause, or use/acceptance of HT. Women with obesity, however, were more likely to self-identify as Black, report the presence of hot flashes, genitourinary/vulvovaginal symptoms, mood disturbances and decreased libido.

Based on the results, the researchers concluded that menopausal women with obesity experienced an increase in menopause symptom prevalence and lower efficacy of HT.

“This is important for healthcare professionals to consider when counselling their patients on the various options for managing their menopause symptoms,” added Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society. “Considering that more than 40% of women over the age of 40 are classified as obese according to the CDC, these results could be meaningful to a large percentage of patients transitioning through menopause.”


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