Midaglia L, Otero S, Baró F, Montalban X, Tintoré M. Menopause and multiple sclerosis: Influence on prognosis and role of disease-modifying drugs and hormonal replacement therapy. Mult Scler. 2022 Feb;28(2):173-182. doi: 10.1177/1352458520952022. Epub 2020 Aug 28. PMID: 32856989.
Background: Sex hormones play a role in both the risk and the prognosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). Considering all stages of women’s reproductive life, data regarding the influence of menopause on MS and vice versa are scarce.
Objective: The aim of this study was to review the evidence addressing the relationship between menopause and MS.
Methods: A literature search through PubMed was conducted, selecting studies that assessed (1) the influence of menopause in the MS course, (2) the influence of MS and disease-modifying drugs (DMD) on the development of menopause and (3) the effect of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on symptoms of menopausal MS patients.
Results: (1) Most studies suggest menopause may transitorily aggravate MS symptoms. Two studies found an inflexion point on the Expanding Disability Status Scale (EDSS) with clinical worsening during the menopausal transition. Another study considering full EDSS trajectories from clinically isolated syndrome to postmenopause did not find such an EDSS inflection; (2) MS and DMD do not seem to alter the age of menopause onset; and (3) HRT in menopausal MS patients has not shown consistent benefits.
Conclusion: Menopause seems to be associated with transient symptom worsening, but the existence of an inflection in disability progression is still controversial. Properly designed studies are necessary to achieve conclusive results.