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Personal use of HRT by postmenopausal women doctors and doctors' wives in the north of Italy.

  • Biglia, Nicoletta
  • Cozzarella, Marilena
  • Ponzone, Riccardo
  • Marenco, Davide
  • Maggiorotto, Furio
  • Fuso, Luca
  • Sismondi, Piero
Published Article
Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2004
PMID: 15255286


This study aimed to describe the prevalence of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use by women doctors and doctors' wives in northern Italy, to explore the relationship between their personal characteristics and HRT use, and to gather information about the use of alternative remedies. A questionnaire was mailed to all physicians born between 1935 and 1955 included in the database of the Medical Register of Turin County (Northern Italy). The questions were meant to explore medical, behavioral, and professional characteristics; personal use of HRT; reasons for and against HRT use; side effects and use of other therapies. 56.5% of postmenopausal women who completed the questionnaire had used HRTand 68.3% of them were current users. The median duration of HRT use was 3.7 years. Only 18.5% of the women had used HRT for 5 years or more; in this case, HRT was started significantly earlier than in the other groups. More than 50% had taken oral HRT, while 39% had used patches; estrogens only had been taken by 21.9%. HRT users had a significantly lower basal body mass index and more vasomotor and dystrophic symptoms at menopause onset compared with non-HRT users. More women on HRT were in good physical health and had an active sex life. Previous breast cancer and family history of cardiovascular diseases were inversely associated with HRT use. The main reason for not taking HRT or stopping it was fear of breast cancer (43.7% and 34.8%, respectively); irregular bleeding and weight gain were also frequently reported as a reason for HRT (30% and 22%). Overall, 22% of women had used alternative drugs to alleviate menopausal symptoms or prevent menopause-related diseases, mainly tibolone (21% among never HRT users and 2% among HRT users; p = 0.015) and phytoestrogens. The prevalence and duration of use of HRT by Italian physicians is consistent with the available data from other Western countries, and is much higher than in the general population. This is in contrast with the very low prevalence of use in the general population and may lead, in the near future, to a larger use of HRT in Italy.

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