Background: Prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) declined following the publication of the Women's Health Initiative study. The number of women who experience recurrence of menopausal symptoms after discontinuation of long-term HRT (LT-HRT), the length of time these symptoms last and the preferred alternative treatments remain unknown. Methods: This prospective 3-year follow-up study analyses the prevalence and intensity of menopausal symptoms that occur in young postmenopausal women who discontinued LT-HRT. Symptoms were evaluated using the Menopause Rating Scale. Results: Women (254) who discontinued LT-HRT (mean use: 6.9 ± 2.3 years) were recruited. Mean age at menopause was 48.1 ± 3.4 years. Mean age at discontinuation was 56.8 ± 3.7 years. 23% of the women were lost to follow-up. Of the remaining 196 women, 93% experienced a recurrence of menopausal symptoms within the first year, 25% resumed low-dose HRT, 62% used vaginal estrogens, 54% used phytoestrogens, and 2% used alternative therapies. A decrease in symptom prevalence and intensity was observed during the 3-year follow-up. Conclusions: Symptoms re-appeared in a significant proportion of patients within the first year after discontinuation of LT-HRT. However, after 3 years, the majority of these women were asymptomatic. Patients who discontinue LT-HRT may require a more detailed follow-up immediately after the discontinuation of treatment.

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