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Minerva Ginecologica 2013 December;65(6):679-96

language: Italian

Phytoestrogens and menopause

Torella M., La Rezza F., Labriola D., Ammaturo F. P., Ambrosio D., Zarcone R., Trotta C., Schettino M. T., De Franciscis P.

Dipartimento di Ginecologia Ostetricia e Scienze della Riproduzione della Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, Napoli, Italia


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Menopause is the interruption of menstrual and reproductive capacity, therefore, that occurs naturally in all women between 48 and 55 years, due to a lower production of gonadal steroids. The period becomes progressively irregular and lack of ovulation and menstrual flow decrease, and finally disappears. The time between the first symptoms and the cessation of the menstrual cycle is called menopause. With the onset of menopause the woman undergoes a series of changes related to estrogen deficiency, which occur in all tissues of the body. In this period one can distinguish an early stage, characterized by hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and insomnia, and a late phase in which we highlight more symptoms related to the interruption of hormonal such as osteoporosis, obesity, at urogenital and increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. In Italy, only 5.2% of women aged 45-64 years used hormone replacement therapy, and only 20-30% follow a therapy for more than two years, both for psychological reasons, and for fear of side effects. Not surprisingly, therefore, phytoestrogens are given a high importance, as they are considered a natural alternative tank to to their plant origin. Interest in phytoestrogens was born from the observation that postmenopausal women who live in the East have a lower incidence of symptoms, cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis hormone use, compared to Western women.

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