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, spray, 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, 3
  • 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.4 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

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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