Obesity Linked To Less Effective Hormone Therapy And Worse Menopause Symptoms


Obesity and its adverse effects have long been established as a topic of importance when it comes to health, and a recent study suggests that it may also exacerbate menopause symptoms in women, potentially diminishing the efficacy of hormone therapy (HT).

These findings were unveiled at the 2023 Annual Meeting of The Menopause Society in Philadelphia, which was held from September 27 to 30.

While hormone therapy stands as a widely recognized and effective treatment for managing various menopause symptoms, limited research has delved into the influence of comorbidities on its effectiveness. Specifically, there is a dearth of research on the impact of obesity on HT efficacy during menopause.

A comprehensive five-year study, involving 119 participants, aimed to address this information gap by exploring the connection between obesity and the self-reported efficacy of HT in peri- and postmenopausal women. Obesity, in this context, was defined as a body mass index equal to or exceeding 30.

The study revealed no statistically significant difference between the two groups of patients (obese vs. non-obese) concerning age, duration of menopause, or the use/acceptance of HT. However, women with obesity were more likely to self-identify as Black and report the presence of symptoms such as hot flashes, genitourinary/vulvovaginal issues, mood disturbances, and decreased libido.

Drawing on these results, the researchers concluded that menopausal women with obesity experienced a heightened prevalence of menopause symptoms and a reduced efficacy of HT. Dr. Anita Pershad from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk spearheaded this study, and the detailed findings, which were presented at the 2023 Annual Meeting of The Menopause Society.

The lead author noted, “We studied menopausal symptoms in an underrepresented patient population that’s not often included in women’s health studies. 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 counseling to patients seeking treatment for their menopausal symptoms.”

As per Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society, “This is important for healthcare professionals to consider when counseling their patients on the various options for managing their menopause symptoms. 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.”