Long-term estrogen deficiency after menopause is responsible for different disorders, which not only make the quality of life in the older age worse but also are the major causes of women´s mortality. It is especially the case for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and dementia. The risk for these disorders can significantly be reduced by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Unfortunately, the mean duration of the postmenopausal administration of HRT is too short to demonstrate its efficacy in preventing the mentioned diseases. In this review the new therapeutic possibilities are discussed, called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). These structurally heterogeneous compounds interact with estrogen receptors and act as either estrogen-agonists or-antagonists according to the type of organ and physiological context (i.e., dose, target tissue and hormone concentrations in the tissue). The evaluation of the effects of these compounds led to the better understanding of both antiestrogens and the whole steroid signaling system. The research of the clinical properties of SERM showed their potential benefit in the long-term care of the women in their non-reproductive period of life and demonstrated the possibility to overcome some drawbacks of HRT.
menopause, ischaemic heart disease, osteoporosis, hormone replacement therapy, selective estrogen receptor modulators, SERM, raloxifene, tamoxifene.