Smoking cessation in peri- and postmenopausal women: a review

Megan A. McVay, Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
Amy L. Copeland


A substantial portion of smokers are peri- or postmenopausal women. Cigarette smoking and menopause have overlapping negative health consequences and may act synergistically to contribute to worse health outcomes in this population. Little is known about issues specific to peri- and postmenopausal women attempting to quit smoking; however, it can be hypothesized that they face unique challenges in quitting smoking. Particularly, negative affect and vasomotor menopausal symptoms may make smoking cessation particularly challenging in this group of women. Peri- and postmenopausal women are also more prone to weight gain following smoking cessation, and concerns about postcessation weight gain may contribute to reduced motivation to quit smoking or to relapse to smoking. Recent evidence suggests that estrogen level may be positively associated with nicotine reward, which may aid in the smoking cessation efforts of postmenopausal women while possibly contributing to worse outcomes in perimenopausal women. Unfortunately, no known studies have compared premenopausal women with peri- or postmenopausal women on smoking cessation outcome variables. Studies in postmenopausal women indicate that hormone therapy (HT) use does not affect nicotine withdrawal, smoking cessation outcomes, or weight gain following smoking cessation; however, a lack of randomized trials limits the strength of these conclusions. Evidence of the effects of HT on mood following smoking cessation is conflicting. Further research is needed to identify the unique factors influencing smoking cessation in peri- and postmenopausal women and to develop and test interventions that target these variables in a way that improves cessation rates among this population.