Skip to content

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

Menopause and Perimenopause - Medications

Medicines can help you cope with bothersome menopause symptoms. Some medicines contain hormones, and some don't.

Hormone therapy is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms. But women who use it may have a higher risk of other health problems.

Menopause: Should I Use Hormone Therapy (HT)?

If your symptoms are the result of early menopause brought on by having your ovaries removed along with your uterus, you may consider estrogen therapy (ET). But ET may increase the risk of health problems in a small number of women.

Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy: Should I Use Estrogen Therapy (ET)?

Medicine choices

Hormone medicines

  • Birth control pills regulate menstrual bleeding and can relieve symptoms until menopause. They aren't used after menopause.
  • Progestin pills and the levonorgestrel IUD release a form of progesterone into the uterus. This reduces heavy, irregular menstrual periods. Some women have side effects.
  • Low-dose vaginal estrogen (cream, tablet, or ring) reduces dryness and other tissue changes in and around the vagina.
  • Hormone therapy (HT) in pill, patch, vaginal ring, gel, or cream form can be used to treat menopause symptoms. Experts recommend that HT only be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period of time.2
  • Bioidentical hormonesBioidentical hormones are made in a lab to be similar to human-produced hormones. But they aren't well researched and may carry the same health risks that traditional HT does.3 Any form of hormone therapy is best taken for as short a time as possible.
  • Estrogen therapy (ET) is used to prevent weakening bones and the severe symptoms that come with sudden, early menopause.
  • TestosteroneTestosterone with estrogen is sometimes used for menopausal symptoms that don't improve with estrogen therapy. But it isn't FDA-approved, because its risks aren't yet fully known. Testosterone with estrogen carries the same risks as estrogen treatment (blood clots, stroke, breast cancer) as well as testosterone risks and side effects.

Short-term, low-dose HT or ET can be taken for up to 4 to 5 years, with regular checkups. This may work well for many women, who will find that their menopause symptoms have subsided within this period of time.

Non-hormone medicines

  • AntidepressantsAntidepressants can lower the number and severity of hot flashes. They may also help with irritability, depression, and moodiness.
  • Clonidine, a high blood pressure medicine, can reduce the number and severity of hot flashes.4 Some women have side effects related to low blood pressure.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an antiseizure medicine. It can reduce the number and severity of hot flashes.5 Possible side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, and swelling.
  • Ospemifene (Osphena) is used to reduce vaginal changes that can make sex painful.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: 2/, 014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    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.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    senior couple
    Video
    mature woman shopping for produce
    Article
     
    Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
    Article
    mature couple on boat
    Article
     
    mature woman tugging on her loose skin
    Slideshow
    senior woman wearing green hat
    Article
     
    estrogen gene
    Quiz
    supplements
    Article