Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes of Menopause

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Alternatives for treating hot flashes facts

  • Each woman experiences menopause differently. Treatment, if necessary, is directed toward  particular symptoms that are present.
  • Hot flashes are experienced by many but not all women undergoing menopause. A hot flash is a feeling of intense warmth, sometimes associated with flushing, that spreads over the body and may be accompanied by perspiration.
  • Often it is not simple to determine if a given symptom is due to menopause. A physician should be consulted regarding symptoms that are new or of unknown cause.
  • While "natural" menopause remedies may be effective, there is a lack of research on the safety and effectiveness of many of these remedies. Side effects of prescription remedies are generally better understood than those ofover-the-counter medications and "natural" treatments or remedies.
  • The most effective treatment for hot flashes is estrogen. However, the risks and benefits of this therapy must be carefully considered by a woman and her physician.
  • Other prescription medications, including SSRIs, may also be effective in relieving hot flashes.
  • Non-prescription products that have been used to treat hot flashes include phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), black cohosh, and vitamin E. However, studies that attest to their effectiveness and long-term safety are incomplete or lacking.

Introduction to menopause and hot flashes

Women frequently ask what symptoms they can anticipate during menopause. In reality, each woman experiences menopause differently. Some women have changes in several areas of their lives. It is not always possible to tell if these changes are related to aging, menopause or both. While one woman is certain that insomnia is a menopause symptom for her, another feels joint aches are her primary menopause symptom. Doctors find it difficult to communicate to their patients about menopause and what could be a host of uncomfortable symptoms. For example, medical science cannot explain how declining hormone levels during menopause could cause joint pain.

Menopause is not an illness, but a natural transition when a woman's reproductive ability ends. Yet many of the menopausal symptoms may mimic signs caused by diseases. When do women undergoing menopause need treatment in the first place? The same pattern of hot flashes in two women can have a very different psychological impact. For one woman, they can greatly disturb her daily functioning, but for another, while another may hardly be bothered.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2013

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Menopause Symptoms

Menopause Symptoms

Medical Author: Melissa Stoppler, M.D.
Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD

Some of the symptoms of menopause can actually begin years before menstrual periods stop occurring. Doctors generally use the term "perimenopause" to refer to the time period beginning prior to the menopause (when some of the signs and symptoms of menopause begin to occur) up through the first year following menopause. Menopause itself is defined as having had 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period.

Menopause symptoms begin gradually while the ovaries are still functioning and a woman is still having menstrual periods. These symptoms can begin as early as the 4th decade of life (when a woman is in her 30s) and may persist for years until menopause has occurred. The symptoms occur early because the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries (estrogen and progesterone) decline slowly over time as a woman reaches her forties. The severity and duration of symptoms vary widely among individuals - some women may experience only minimal symptoms for a year or two, while others may experience at least some of the symptoms for several years.