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Menopause: Treatments

The time of life when a woman's ovaries stop producing hormones and menstrual periods stop. Natural menopause usually occurs around age 50. A woman is said to be in menopause when she hasn't had a period for 12 months in a row.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Menopause Treatments

Menopause symptoms can be relieved in various ways. In most women, though, hot flashes and sweats lessen over time and then go away completely without any treatment. Menopause is not an illness. It is normal for hormone levels to fall in middle age. These hormones do not need to be replaced.

There are a lot of complementary medicine products for the relief of menopause symptoms. These are often available in the form of dietary supplements. They have not been proven to work. The best-researched products are those containing plant-based estrogens, known as phytoestrogens. These include soy-based products. But it is not clear whether they actually help relieve menopause symptoms. This is true of products containing red clover and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) too. There is also no proof that certain foods can make menopause symptoms better or worse.

The currently most effective treatment... Read more about Menopause: Treatments

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Menopause: Full Guideline

In summary, a large number of women in the UK experience menopausal symptoms which, in many cases, can significantly affect their quality of life. It is probable that a minority of these women seek medical treatment and for those who do there is considerable variation in the help available, with many being told that the symptoms will get better with time. Since symptoms may often continue for 7 years or more, this advice is inappropriate and help should be offered where possible. Women need to know about the available options and their risks and benefits, and be empowered to become part of the decision-making process.

Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments

Homeopathic medicines are used by many patients with cancer, usually alongside conventional treatment. Cancer treatments can cause adverse effects, and one of the reasons patients use homeopathic medicines is to help with these symptoms. This review looked at whether these medicines could help patients with problems caused by cancer treatments. Eight studies with a total of 664 participants were included in this review. Three studied adverse effects of radiotherapy, three studied adverse effects of chemotherapy and two studied menopausal symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. Two studies with low risk of bias demonstrated benefit: one with 254 participants demonstrated benefits from calendula ointment in the prevention of radiotherapy‐induced dermatitis, and another with 32 participants demonstrated benefits from Traumeel S (a complex homeopathic medicine) over placebo as a mouthwash for chemotherapy‐induced stomatitis. These trials need replicating. Two other studies reported positive results, although the risk of bias was unclear, and four further studies reported negative results. The homeopathic medicines used in all eight studies did not seem to cause any serious adverse effects or interact with conventional treatment. No cancer treatments were modified or stopped because of the homeopathic interventions.

Phytoestrogens for vasomotor menopausal symptoms

Review question: This Cochrane review has evaluated whether phytoestrogen treatments reduce the number and severity of hot flushes and whether they are safe and acceptable.

See all (114)

Summaries for consumers

Relieving menopause symptoms on your own

Women going through menopause often look for ways to relieve their symptoms themselves or manage them better. Some make changes to their diet, do sports, or try out yoga or relaxation techniques. Others turn to herbal products or “alternative” approaches, which often promise more than they can deliver.Treatment isn't always needed to relieve menopause symptoms. Menopause is not an illness. Hot flashes and sweats usually lessen over time even without any treatment, and then go away completely by themselves.Some women simply wait until menopause passes. Others try making adjustments to their lifestyle – for example by changing their diet or getting more exercise – to improve their general wellbeing. This can help them cope better with menopause.Many women try herbal products or other approaches that are often labeled “alternative.” But most of these remedies are often believed to be more effective than they actually are. Others have side effects that are sometimes underestimated.

Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments

Homeopathic medicines are used by many patients with cancer, usually alongside conventional treatment. Cancer treatments can cause adverse effects, and one of the reasons patients use homeopathic medicines is to help with these symptoms. This review looked at whether these medicines could help patients with problems caused by cancer treatments. Eight studies with a total of 664 participants were included in this review. Three studied adverse effects of radiotherapy, three studied adverse effects of chemotherapy and two studied menopausal symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. Two studies with low risk of bias demonstrated benefit: one with 254 participants demonstrated benefits from calendula ointment in the prevention of radiotherapy‐induced dermatitis, and another with 32 participants demonstrated benefits from Traumeel S (a complex homeopathic medicine) over placebo as a mouthwash for chemotherapy‐induced stomatitis. These trials need replicating. Two other studies reported positive results, although the risk of bias was unclear, and four further studies reported negative results. The homeopathic medicines used in all eight studies did not seem to cause any serious adverse effects or interact with conventional treatment. No cancer treatments were modified or stopped because of the homeopathic interventions.

Phytoestrogens for vasomotor menopausal symptoms

Review question: This Cochrane review has evaluated whether phytoestrogen treatments reduce the number and severity of hot flushes and whether they are safe and acceptable.

See all (48)

Terms to know

Estrogen
A type of hormone made by the body that helps develop and maintain female sex characteristics and the growth of long bones. Estrogens can also be made in the laboratory. They may be used as a type of birth control and to treat symptoms of menopause, menstrual disorders, osteoporosis, and other conditions.
Hormones
A messenger molecule that helps coordinate the actions of various tissues; made in one part of the body and transported, via the bloodstream, to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.
Hot Flashes
A sudden, temporary onset of body warmth, flushing, and sweating (often associated with menopause).
Hysterectomy
Surgery to remove the uterus and, sometimes, the cervix. When the uterus and the cervix are removed, it is called a total hysterectomy. When only the uterus is removed, it is called a partial hysterectomy.
Menstruation (Periods)
Periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus. From puberty until menopause, menstruation occurs about every 28 days when a woman is not pregnant.
Ovaries
The ovaries are a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed. The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus.

More about Menopause: Treatments

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Other terms to know: See all 6
Estrogen, Hormones, Hot Flashes

Related articles:
Relieving Menopause Symptoms on Your Own
Hormone Therapy for Menopause Symptoms
Wellbeing During Menopause

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