Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats may persist for 10 to 20 years or even longer. Information about the extent to which older women use hormone therapy is limited. The aim of this study was to determine the use of hormone therapy in Swedish women aged 80 years or older.
The study is based on national register data on dispensed drug prescriptions (ie, prescribed therapy that has been provided to individuals by pharmacies) for hormone therapy and local low-dose estrogens.
Of 310,923 Swedish women who were aged at least 80 years, 609 (0.2%) were new users of hormone therapy. A total of 2,361 women (0.8%) were current users of hormone therapy. The median duration of hormone therapy use in new users was 257 days (25th to 75th percentiles, 611-120 d). About one in six women aged 80 years or older had used local vaginal estrogen therapy for at least four 3-month periods. The drugs were mainly prescribed by gynecologists and general practitioners.
Our results show that a number of women aged 80 years or older still use hormone therapy and that most women who started a new treatment period had only one or two dispensations despite the median duration of treatment being more than half a year. Because at least some of the women aged 80 years or older who used hormone therapy probably did so owing to persistent climacteric symptoms, vasomotor symptoms and hormone therapy are still relevant issues that need to be discussed when counseling women around and after age 80.