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Menopause. 2006 Jul-Aug;13(4):568-75.

Sertraline to treat hot flashes: a randomized controlled, double-blind, crossover trial in a general population.

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College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.



To evaluate the effectiveness of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) (sertraline) in decreasing hot flashes in a general population of women.


A double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial was conducted in a southwestern urban setting. A total of 102 women aged 40 to 65 who were experiencing hot flashes and not taking any hormone therapy were recruited. After 1 week of baseline hot flash data collection, study participants were randomized to receive placebo or active drug (sertraline 50 mg) for 4 weeks. This intervention was followed by a 1-week washout and cross over to the opposite treatment for 4 weeks. The number and severity of hot flashes were measured.


One hundred two women were enrolled in the study. Five dropped out before providing baseline data. Of the 97 remaining, 52 were randomized to active drug first and 45 to placebo first. Ten dropped out of the study before completing all 10 weeks, leaving 46 in the active drug-first arm and 41 in the placebo-first arm. At baseline, the mean number of hot flashes reported was 45.6 per week (SD = 29.6), ranging from 2 to 148. During the sertraline phase of the study, women experienced five fewer hot flashes per week than they did on the placebo (P = 0.002). The severity of hot flashes was not significantly different; however, the hot flash score (number x average severity) was significantly improved during the sertraline phase.


Sertraline reduced the number of hot flashes and improved the hot flash score relative to placebo and may be an acceptable alternative treatment for women experiencing hot flashes.

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