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World Health Organization Technical Report Series. 1981; (670):1-120.This report includes the collective views of a World Health Organization (WHO) Scientific Group on Research on the Menopause that met in Geneva during December 1980. It includes information on the following: 1) the endocrinology of the menopause and the postmenopausal period (changes in gonadotropins and estrogens immediately prior to the menopause and changes in gonadotropin and steroid hormone levels after the menopause); 2) the age distribution of the menopause (determining the age at menopause, factors influencing the age at menopause, and the range of ages at menopause and the definition of premature and delayed menopause); 3) sociocultural significance of the menopause in different settings; 4) symptoms associated with the menopause (vasomotor symptoms, psychological symptoms, disturbances of sexuality, and insomnia); 5) disorders resulting from, or possibly accelerated by, the menopause (osteoporosis, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and arthritic disorders); 6) risks, with particular reference to neoplasia, of therapeutic estrogens and progestins given to peri- and postmenopausal women (endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease); 7) fertility regulating methods for women approaching the menopause (fertility and the need for family planning in women approaching the menopause, problems of family planning in perimenopausal women, and considerations with regard to individual methods of family planning in women approaching the menopause); and 8) estrogen and the health care management of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. At this time some controversy exists as to whether there is a menopausal syndrome of somatic and psychological symptoms and illness. There are virtually no data on the age distribution of the menopause and no information on its sociocultural significance in the developing countries. The subject of risks and benefits of estrogen therapy in peri- and postmenopausal women is of much importance in view of the large number of prescriptions issued for this medication in developed countries, which indicates their frequrnt use, and the different interpretations and opinions among epidemiologists and clinicians on both past and current studies on this subject. Specific recommendations made by the Scientific Group appear at the end of each section of the report. The following were among the general recommendations made: WHO sponsored research should be undertaken to determine the impact on health service needs of the rapidly increasing numbers of postmenopausal women in developing countries; uniform terminology should be adopted by health care workers with regard to the menopause; uniform endocrine standards should be developed which can be applied to the description of peri- and postmenopausal conditions and diseases; and descriptive epidemiological studies of the age at menopause should be performed in a variety of settings.