Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1242:89-120. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-38474-6_6.
As longevity expands, women are spending a third of their existence in menopause and beyond. The vast majority suffer from symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life. Systemic vasomotor symptoms (VMS) are the classic cluster affecting 80% of peri- and post-menopausal women. Once thought to be relatively brief, they sometimes persist more than 10 years. Compelling, yet enigmatic, is the recent finding that women with bothersome and long VMS compared with age-matched peers often have worst underlying preclinical markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).Local vulvovaginal and urinary symptoms, now termed genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), are seen in 50% of postmenopausal women, and it negatively impacts quality of life. Estrogen remains the most effective treatment for both VMS and GSM, for osteoporosis prevention, and for symptom relief as well as chronic disease prevention in women who experience premature menopause whether from primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) or iatrogenic etiologies. For women who have contraindications to estrogen therapy or who personally object, a panoply of nonhormonal modalities can be offered to treat both systemic and local menopausal symptoms. A historical review of estrogen studies reveals why its persona has vacillated from hero to villain (after the WHI) and back to hero. The «timing hypothesis» and its underlying mechanism shed light on the pleiotropic nature of estrogen. Finally reviewed is the compelling argument from notable thought-leaders that estrogen, in those without contraindications, should be considered for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease as well as the prevention of chronic disease.