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A systematic review and critical appraisal of menopause guidelines


Objective and rationale To identify and appraise current national and international clinical menopause guidance documents, and to extract and compare the recommendations of the most robust examples.

Design Systematic review.

Data sources Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Web of Science

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Practice guidance documents for menopause published from 2015 until 20 July 2023. Quality was assessed by the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) instrument.

Results Twenty-six guidance papers were identified. Of these, five clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) and one non-hormonal therapy position statement met AGREE II criteria of being at least of moderate quality. The five CPGs listed symptoms associated with the perimenopause and menopause to be vasomotor symptoms (VMS), disturbed sleep, musculoskeletal pain, decreased sexual function or desire, and mood disturbance (low mood, mood changes or depressive symptoms). Acknowledged potential long-term menopause consequences were urogenital atrophy, and increased risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. VMS and menopause-associated mood disturbance were the only consistent indications for systemic menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). Some CPGs supported MHT to prevent or treat osteoporosis, but specific guidance was lacking. None recommended MHT for cognitive symptoms or prevention of other chronic disease. Perimenopause-specific recommendations were scant. A neurokinin 3B antagonist, selective serotonin/norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitors and gabapentin were recommended non-hormonal medications for VMS, and cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis were consistently considered as being of potential benefit.

Discussion The highest quality CPGs consistently recommended MHT for VMS and menopause-associated mood disturbance, whereas clinical depression or cognitive symptoms, and cardiometabolic disease and dementia prevention were not treatment indications. Further research is needed to inform clinical recommendations for symptomatic perimenopausal women.

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • menopause
  • Health Policy

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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