Are There Any Treatments for Symptoms of Menopause?
There are a number of different treatment options to consider if you're suffering from symptoms of menopause.
Lifestyle changes. A healthy diet and regular exercise program will go a long way towards minimizing the symptoms of menopause and helping to maintain overall good health. It is also a good idea to finally kick any old, unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Other interventions that may be helpful are to dress lightly and in layers and avoid potential triggers like caffeine and spicy foods.
Menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and drop in sex drive, haven't changed. But the way women deal with menopause has.
"Women are becoming more accepting of the physical and emotional challenges that are associated with menopause and accepting them as natural, transitional changes," says Karen Giblin. She's the founder of Red Hot Mamas, a national menopause education program. "They're focusing on feeling good and looking at menopause more positively."
Prescription medication. Treatment with estrogen and progesterone, called combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT), can be prescribed for women who still have their uterus, if they have moderate to severe symptoms of menopause. Estrogen alone is the prescribed regimen for women who have had a hysterectomy (no longer have their uterus).
In the past, HRT was widely recommended for the treatment of menopausal symptoms as well the prevention of osteoporosis and heart disease. A large study known as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shed new light on how HRT is viewed.
According to the WHI study results, combination HRT increases the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, blood clots, and stroke. Estrogen-only HRT was found to increase the risk of blood clots and stroke but did not increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer or heart disease. Although the WHI study found an increase in the risk of heart disease in women taking combination HRT, a more recent study suggests this finding may not be relevant to all postmenopausal women.
A study published in the March 5, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on WHI participants three years after they stopped combination HRT therapy. The researchers found that "many of the health effects of hormones such as increased risk of heart disease are diminished, but overall risks, including risks of stroke, blood clots, and cancer, remain high." The study also concluded that the increased risk of breast cancer appears to linger and "other effects of combination hormones, such as decreased risk of colorectal cancer and hip fractures, also stopped when therapy ended."