Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Menopause: Is There Life Beyond Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Post-HRT, what are women doing to manage menopause symptoms? And are compounded bioidenticals safe?

The truth about HRT

So where does that leave women who still need relief? They can try nonhormonal therapies first (more on these below), but if these attempts don’t work, the news about hormone therapy isn’t uniformly bad.

Doctors now use hormone therapy to relieve moderate to severe menopause symptoms but at the lowest dose that works for the shortest time needed. When women start hormone therapy within 10 years from the time they enter menopause, heart disease risk doesn’t seem to rise. In fact, preliminary evidence suggests that hormone therapy taken for menopause symptoms in the first few years of menopause may even help to protect the heart. But the longer a woman waits to start hormone therapy after menopause, the higher the risk of heart disease.

Doctors continue to prescribe hormone replacement therapy when benefits outweigh risks for women grappling with disruptive hot flashes or night sweats that lead to insomnia and irritability. “Estrogen still is the most effective intervention for just about all the symptoms of menopause, no question about it,” Minkin says.

But because of the potential for serious problems, menopausal women considering hormone therapy should carefully discuss individual risks and benefits with their doctor. For example, women who have had breast cancer would not be good candidates. Besides hormone therapy, some doctors prescribe antidepressants, which have worked moderately well to relieve hot flashes in clinical trials.

Finding a doctor with menopause expertise can help women come up with a good plan, says Karen Giblin, founder and president of Red Hot Mamas, a national menopause education group. A starting point: The North American Menopause Society’s website, which lists doctors who have earned menopause credentials from the organization.

Birth control pills for perimenopause

Another HRT alternative for women on the road to menopause: low-dose birth control pills, believe it or not, are also good for calming dreaded hot flashes and heavy or irregular bleeding.

A perimenopausal woman isn’t officially in menopause until she has gone 12 months without a period. In the several years leading up to that milestone, a woman ovulates less and can produce less estrogen and progesterone. “We’re not ovulating as well and our estrogen levels are variable,” says Minkin. “Your hormones look like the Dow Jones industrial average -- especially these days: up, down, up, down.” Symptoms fluctuate with the wild hormonal swings, she adds.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections