Postmenopausal women comprise an ever-increasing percentage of the population. The alteration in ovarian function with loss of cyclic hormonal activity after menopause appears to be an actual endocrinopathy that produces definite metabolic effects. Clinicians must therefore become able to differentiate postmenopausal endocrine changes from those associated with the aging process. Four criteria are necessary for endocrinopathy to be present: morphologic changes, functional changes, hormonal changes, and target-tissue changes. The metabolic and pathologic changes after menopause appear to satisfy these criteria. If an actual endocrinopathy is determined to be present, long-term hormonal replacement therapy may be appropriate.
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