Menopause is a natural change
that doesn't require treatment. But symptoms of hormonal change can be
difficult. If you have
insomnia, mood swings,
hot flashes, cloudy thinking,
heavy menstrual periods, or other menopause symptoms,
treatment can help you manage this transition more comfortably. As you review
your options, consider the following:
- Healthy lifestyle habits will help you reduce
menopause symptoms. These habits include eating a balanced diet; reducing
stress; getting regular exercise; and avoiding smoking, heavy caffeine, and
heavy alcohol use. An unhealthy lifestyle can make symptoms worse.
hormone therapy (HT) or low-dose birth control pills
may be an option if you are still having periods and have multiple or severe
symptoms. Birth control pills aren't used after menopause because they contain
higher levels of hormones than women need.
- After menopause,
hormone therapy can be used as a
short-term treatment for severe symptoms when taken in
as low a dose as possible.
- You may only need a specific treatment
for certain symptoms, such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
- Meditative breathing or supplements such as black cohosh or soy
may help relieve symptoms.
Research has led to a big change in how doctors use
hormone therapy after menopause. For a long time,
estrogen-progestin, or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), was thought to protect against heart disease or dementia. But for a small number of women, HRT may increase the risk of certain health problems, such as blood clots, heart disease, or stroke.5, 6 The heart
disease risk does not seem to affect women during their first 10 years after
Average HRT- and ERT-related
risks are low among the general population of women. But your personal risk that hormone therapy may stimulate breast cancer, ovarian
cancer, cardiovascular problems, blood clots, or neurological changes may be
lower or higher, depending on your risk factors for those health problems.
Treatment options for menopause symptoms
Hot flashes. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, or meditative breathing, may help you manage hot flashes. Some practices may help reduce hot flashes, and others may make you more comfortable when you are having a hot flash. Medicines that
can improve hot flashes include
short-term, low-dose hormone therapy,
antidepressants, the high blood pressure medicine
clonidine, and the antiseizure medicine
Heavy periods. The hormone
progestin can help relieve
heavy menstrual bleeding caused by very low or very
high progesterone levels (after you have an exam to rule out other possible
causes). Other options include
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the
levonorgestrel (LNg) IUD, or birth control pills. For
severe blood loss, some women choose permanent surgical treatment. These
options include removing the uterus (hysterectomy)
or using heat energy to damage and scar the wall of the uterus (endometrial ablation). For more information, see the
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding.