Menopause Symptoms and Treatment: For Some Hormones May Be the Best Treatment

by Laura Ramirez on August 16, 2011

Menopause symptoms and treatment: recent research indicates that foods long proclaimed to be beneficial at treating hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain and other symptoms are ineffective. In a recent study, soy was found to work about the same as a placebo in terms of alleviating hot flashes. It also did nothing to increase bone density as has been claimed in numerous articles online. Flaxseed was also shown to be ineffective at treating hot flushes. With all this disappointing news, many health conscious women are wondering if they should go back to using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the same medicine that their mothers used to ease them through the change of life decades ago. ᅠ

It’s important to understand that it was the results of a study that made so many women throw their hormone pills into the trash. In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative published a study linking use of supplemental hormones like Premarin to increased chance of breast cancer and heart attack. Many lawsuits have been filed and settled on the basis of this study. Of course, in retrospect, what scientists are realizing now is that the study may have been flawed. Since the majority of the women who participated in the study had gone through menopause more than ten years earlier, the thinking is that they might have been susceptible to cancer and heart disease simply due to their age and state of health, that synthetic hormones may not have been the culprit after all.

But now some doctors are arguing that those risks do not apply to the typical woman with menopause symptoms, and even some longtime critics of hormone treatment are suggesting that it be given another look for women suffering from severe symptoms.

Study after study has shown that many nondrug treatments — black cohosh, red clover, botanicals, and now soy and flaxseed — simply don’t work. Prescription medicines, including antidepressants, the blood pressure drug clonidine and the seizure drug gabapentin may have some benefit, but many women cannot tolerate the side effects.

“There is no alternative treatment that works very well, whether it’s a drug or over-the-counter herbal preparation,” said Dr. Deborah Grady, associate dean for clinical and translational research at the University of California, San Francisco.

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menopause symptoms and treatment

Menopause symptoms and treatment - some women can get safe, effective relief from hormone replacement therapy.

Some doctors are now recommending hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms and treatment, especially for severe symptoms that disrupt a women’s life and make it impossible for her to rejuvenate herself. For instance, even though we laugh at the term hot flash and all that it implies, they can be quite serious, coming on at odd moments on the job, out in public or waking women up all night (also referred to as hot flushes or night sweats). In fact, they can so disturb a woman’s sleep that she gets barely any rest at all, during a time in life when she most needs it. Although for some women, hot flashes last only a couple of years (and I say “only” but only in relation to what I say next), but for others, they can last for as long as 7-10 years.

For women who cannot take hormones because they have had cancer, taking antidepressants is the next best bet in terms of effectiveness. Pristiqu, Paxi and Effexor, all anti-depressant prescription drugs, can cut the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in half.

For those women who can take hormones, a growing number of doctors feel that the benefits far outweigh the risks of getting cancer. It frustrates doctors to no end that women opt to use ineffective natural remedies and live with symptoms on the basis of a study that was done almost ten years ago and has been largely debunked as flawed. Of course an alternative to synthetic hormones is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, which is touted by celebrities like Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey in terms of relieving menopausal symptoms.

What are your thoughts on this? What are you currently using for menopause symptoms and treatment?

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