Competency in menopause management: Whither goest the internist?

Richard J Santen, Cynthia A. Stuenkel, Henry G. Burger, JoAnn E Manson

Research output: Contribution to journalComment / DebateOtherpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: After publication of the Women's Health Initiative study in 2002, use of menopausal hormone therapy (HT) has declined by nearly 80% worldwide and internists now play only a limited role in menopause management. Over the past decade, new data have increased our knowledge of the multiple effects and mechanisms of HT. Methods: Existing literature was reviewed. Results: A consensus has emerged that the benefits of HT outweigh the risks for the relief of symptoms in women who have recently undergone menopause and are not at excess risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Non-hormonal agents, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), and tibolone are also useful in management. Factors entering into the decision-making process regarding menopause management are increasingly complex and involve consideration of effects on multiple systems and potential disease-related events. These considerations suggest that internists trained to evaluate and integrate factors influencing multiple organ systems should re-engage in menopause management. Most internists currently lack the core competencies and experience necessary to address menopausal issues and meet the needs of women who have completed their reproductive years. We believe that this situation is detrimental to women's health, leads to fragmented care, and should change. Conclusions: We propose that the multidimensional expertise that characterizes the internist may provide the most comprehensive approach to menopause management. For the internist to meet this need, a set of core competencies must be attained, which will require new didactic programs to be developed for medical students, residents and practicing physicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-285
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2014

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