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BACKGROUND: There is considerable inconsistency in the results of studies of the psychological and sexual sequelae of the menopause and their treatment. METHOD: A search of the literature on Medline was made of studies of psychological symptoms in women who were either naturally or surgically menopausal or who were receiving hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms. RESULTS: There is evidence of a small increase in psychological morbidity (not usually amounting to psychiatric disorder) preceding the natural menopause and following the surgical menopause. Psychosocial as well as hormonal factors are relevant. While the response of psychosocial symptoms to hormone replacement therapy with oestrogens is variable and most marked in the surgical menopause, in some studies the effect is little greater than that for placebo. Where sexual symptoms are present, there is more consistent evidence that hormone replacement therapy is effective. CONCLUSIONS: In the light of the available evidence, the current use of hormone replacement therapy to treat psychological symptoms detected at the time of (but not necessarily therefore due to) the natural menopause must be questioned. It does appear that oestrogen therapy ameliorates psychological symptoms after surgical menopause.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





163 - 173


Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Climacteric, Depressive Disorder, Estrogen Replacement Therapy, Female, Humans, Libido, Menopause, Premature, Middle Aged, Treatment Outcome