Treating Menopause In Malaysia


Dr. Ong Hean Choon, Malaysian Menopouse society, KL Menopause Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


1st International Conference & Exhibition on Women's Health & Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine




menopause, treating menopause, menopausal symptoms, vitamins, calcium , evening primrose oil , hormone therapy


The average age of menopause in Malaysia is 49.5 years, with little differences amongst the major ethnic groups. Population statistics ( mid-year estimates June 2004 ) indicate that the number of females aged 50 & above is 1,789,000 or 14.25% of the total female population. Life expectancy for women in Malaysia is 75.5 years. About 30% of postmenopausal women in Malaysia complain of menopausal symptoms, with the common symptoms (over 3 survey periods) being vasomotor complaints, vaginal & sexuality complaints, and urinary complaints. Over 80% of these women with symptoms do not seek any treatment at all. Of those who do, 80% of them receive some form of treatment, but 43% of them did not comply with the treatment prescribed. An earlier study in 1994 showed that 31% were placed on HRT, 28% on tranquilisers, and 41% were out on herbal remedies. A later study in 2001 showed that current users of HRT was only 18.8% with an average use of 28 months. The same study also showed that these women stopped their HRT because of fear of breast cancer (56%), breast tenderness (32%), and bleeding problems (17%). Malaysian postmenopausal women frequently resort to vitamins, calcium and evening primrose oil (EPO). In Malaysia, our women are often taking dong quai for menopausal flushes, and Chinese ginseng to relieve fatigue.  Some of them also take preparations like Borage Plus, and Gingko preparations. Alternative drugs, like Livial ( tibolone ), remifemin ( black cohosh ), and  Fem E ( Swiss Red Clover ) are also commonly used in postmenopausal women in Malaysia. It is fair to also assume that in Malaysia, postmenopausal women also resort to Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditional medicine since these are easily available. In view of the current controversy and anxiety about hormone therapy, it is not surprising that postmenopausal women in Malaysia will turn more towards complementary, alternative and traditional medicine.