Many women are avoiding hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and are trying out 'alternative' and untested menopause treatments that could be dangerous, say researchers.
That's the finding of a review carried out by Australian researchers led by the University of Adelaide. The data was taken from the South Australian Health Omnibus Survey (HOS).
The HOS, a regular survey of health-related issues, interviewed 953 women over the age of 40, which included 688 women over the age of 50. Women were asked about various health-related issues, including HRT use.
They found that in 2004, 15.8 percent of women above the age of 50 were using HRT, a fall from 22 percent in the year 2000.
In 2004, use of 'alternative hormonal therapies' was rare. In 2008, conventional HRT use over age 50 had dropped further to 11.8 percent, and the number of women taking alternative untested hormonal therapies had risen to 4.0 percent.
Women wrongly identified alternative therapies such as 'bioidentical hormone therapies' as a safe hormonal alternative to conventional HRT.
Menopause specialists say the best and safest period to commence HRT is near menopause. In 2008, 13.4 percent of women aged 50-59 years used HRT, compared with 7.7 percent in this age group who used unconventional, unregistered alternative hormones.
Alastair MacLennan, professor and head of obstetrics & gynaecology at the University of Adelaide, says he's concerned that women are turning to alternative therapies for relief of menopausal symptoms without knowing the facts.
"Alternative practitioners are capitalizing on women's fears by promoting 'bioidentical' hormones, and herbal remedies," MacLennan said, according to a University of Adelaide release.
The results were published in the April edition of Climacteric.