Although we have found HRT to be beneficial to many, some women rely on alternative methods of treating and managing their menopausal symptoms. Typical menopausal symptoms include vaginal dryness, problems sleeping, hot flashes (also called hot flushes), mood swings, and depression. Here is an overview of 5 non-hormonal therapies which a woman can employ to alleviate problems associated with menopause:
Studies have shown that anti-depressants might help in the relieving hot flashes in a good number of women. Several options are available, which include, antidepressants Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI, and the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors- such as, Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine).
A number of medications used for high blood pressure, like Catapres (clonidine), are other alternative menopause treatments. Studies however, have indicated that the effect of clonidine might be minimal, particularly for those women who experience hot flashes of a severe intensity.
Gabapentin or Neurontin, the medication for seizures, has also been proven to reduce the intensity of hot flashes. Experts suggest that it operates through dampening the chemical activity in some particular brain areas, like the ones associated with hot flashes. Although it has several side effects, Gabapentin is perhaps the most ideal among menopause treatments.
Soy, a phytoestrogen has qualities similar to estrogen and several studies have shown it can assist in cases of milder hot flashes. For the most part, Soy is safe although potentially could lead to complications when used for very long durations or excessively.
5. Black Cohosh
Studies carried out on the effectiveness of Black Cohosh on night sweats and hot flashes have given mixed outcomes. Women are advised to avoid Black Cohosh as part of their menopause treatments in case they experience liver disorders, or are developing liver trouble symptoms.
It may be pointed out that while many women have reported success in managing mood swings and hot flashes with BP medication, antidepressants, and anti-seizure treatments, there are also several side effects. Perhaps changes in lifestyle are worth looking into, including regular exercise and healthy eating. Overall if you choose not to or cannot take hormones you may some relief of symptoms with these alternatives. The benefits of hormone therapy should not be ignored.
Raj Syal MD