Complementary Therapies For Menopausal Symptoms

Complementary Therapies for Menopausal Symptoms

Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she stops havingmenstrual periods permanently. It takes place around the age of 50 in mostwomen. At the time of menopause, many changes occur in the body. These changescan cause symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Over theyears, the changes also raise a woman’s risk of serious health problems. Theseinclude:

  • the bone-thinning disease called osteoporosis
  • highcholesterol
  • heartdisease
  • The most common treatment for menopause is to make up for the body’sreduced production of estrogen. This is done by giving prescription medicines.This approach is known as hormonereplacement therapy, or HRT. Complementary therapies for menopausalsymptoms are those that supplement or replace HRT. These may include plantproducts and other alternative health treatments.

    What is the information for this topic?

    Eight of the most common natural alternative therapies are outlined below.Before taking or using them, a woman should discuss options with her healthcareprovider. While these therapies may help with certain symptoms, there are nolong-term studies to show their effects on osteoporosis, heartdisease, or cholesterol levels in the body.

    1. Natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT) uses compounds similar tohormones. These are found in soybeans and yams. The molecular structure ofthese compounds is modified to exactly match human hormones. The effects ofthese specially prepared therapies are not definitely known. They have not beenshown in research studies to have the same beneficial effects as prescriptionHRT.

    2. Phytoestrogens are compounds that occur naturally in some plants,herbs, and seeds. Some of these compounds have properties like those ofestrogen. Flaxseeds and soybeans contain phytoestrogens. They may be useful forsome women in reducing hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginaldryness. Further studies are needed to show if they really work toreduce these symptoms and what the ideal dose may be. Phytoestrogens may helpimprove cholesterol levels. However, they should not be used in place ofmedicines prescribed to treat high cholesterol. It is not known howphytoestrogens affect a woman’s risk of osteoporosis.

    3. Herbal remedies are plants used for medicinal purposes. They areavailable over the counter without a prescription. Some may help reduce mildmenopause symptoms. Some of these remedies may interact with other medicinesand other complementary therapies. Herbs may also affect other health problemsthat a woman has. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does notcurrently approve herbal remedies. Their quality and potency vary widely. Someof the common herbs that may be helpful for some women include:

  • black cohosh, also sold as Remifemin. The standardized product available inGermany appears to be helpful in reducing hot flashes, night sweats,headache, and vaginaldryness. Its effect on osteoporosis, cholesterol, and heart diseaserisk is not known.
  • chasteberry, which may help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, andvaginaldryness
  • ginseng with 4% ginsenosides, which may reduce fatigue andimprove energy level. Ginseng may interact with other drugs, such as warfarin,a blood thinner. Women with high blood pressure should avoid ginseng.
  • valerian, which may help some women with anxiety, tension, or troublesleeping. It is best to take valerian for only a short period of time. It mayinteract in dangerous ways with other medicines, such as those used forhighblood pressure.
  • 4. Acupressure can help ease menopausal symptoms. There are fourspecific pressure points that are used.

    5. Biofeedback uses machines to help teach control of certain bodyfunctions. It may be useful for some women dealing with urinaryincontinence, or involuntary urine loss.

    6. Vaginal lubricants ease vaginal dryness. Water-based products arebest. Products that contain alcohol or perfume may cause irritation in somewomen. Oil-based products, such as Vaseline, can also cause irritation.

    7. Progesterone cream applied to the skin may counteract the negative effectsof estrogen on breast tissue and uterine lining. The FDA does not regulatethese products. That means they are not regulated and may or may not containprogesterone. Further study is needed to verify whether these products areeffective.

    8. Regular exercise has many benefits. Weight-bearing exercises, such aswalking, can help slow bone loss from osteoporosis. Aerobic exercise,including biking or swimming, can lower the risk of heart disease. Activitiessuch as these also improve a woman’s overall sense of well-being.

    Article type: xmedgeneral