Menopause - Treatment
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Menopause in itself requires no medical therapy. The treatments that exist only aim to alleviate the symptoms. While there are several approaches it's usualy best to take the least agressive approach first. If your symptoms are severe, or don't respond to natural methods and lifestyle changes, there are numerous medical treatments that you can discuss with your doctor.
Medical Treatments for Menopause
Clonidine: generally used for the treatment of high blood pressure, is prescribed in lower doses to relieve hot flashes. There have been several studies on the effect of Clonidine for treating hot flushes, but these have shown different results. Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness
Antidepressants: specifically the drugs classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are prescribed in low doses to help with hot flashes and mood swings.
Gabapentin: was originally used to treat seizures and epilepsy. However recent research has suggested that it may be as effective as as oestrogen in treating hot flushes in postmenopausal women. Possible side effects include dizziness, tiredness, tremor and weight gain
Tibolone: Tibolone is used to manage the symptoms of menopause. It is also used in the prevention of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Tibolone is a synthetic steroid medicine that mimics the activity of the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone and the androgen testosterone in the body. Tibolone helps restore the balance of hormones in the body, especially oestrogen. Possible side effects include; headaches, dizziness and nausea. There is also a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most effective way available to treat menopausal symptoms. It involves the use of oestrogens or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone. The advantages and benefits of short-term therapy in those with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms usually outweigh possible risks.
More information on HRT
Oral contraceptive pills may be prescribed for irregular bleeding. They help relieve hot flashes and also provide contraception in the perimenopausal period.
Local vaginal hormone creams can help counter the dryness and itching.
Alternative Treatments for Menopause
Herbal Remedies: Plant estrogens, red clover, black Cohosh (a herbal preparation), and Vitamin E have been reported to alleviate hot flashes and some other symptoms of menopause to varying degrees. Recent research has cast some doubt on the efficacy of some herbal treatments for menopause and more research is needed.
- More on herbs for menopause here.
Accupuncture: Studies have revealed that acupuncture can be effective in reducing some of the symptoms of menopause, in particular hot flushes and feelings of anxiety.
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