Menopause Treatment: Talking with Your Doctor (cont.)

For some women, MHT may increase their chance of getting:

Who should NOT use MHT for menopause:

Women who . . .

MHT can also cause these side effects:

  • Bleeding

  • Bloating

  • Breast tenderness or enlargement

  • Headaches

  • Mood changes

  • Nausea

Natural Treatments/Alternative Therapies

You may want to consider alternatives to menopausal hormone therapy to ease menopausal symptoms. Some women decide to take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to help their symptoms. But there is not enough evidence to know if treatments like these are helpful. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these treatments. They may have side effects or make another drug not work as well. Some of the most common ones are:

Soy. This contains phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances from a plant). Some research has shown that soy food products can help with mild hot flashes. Other research suggests that women who have been diagnosed with estrogen-dependent breast cancer should be cautious with their soy intake. Eating large amounts of soy products could be harmful for women with this type of breast cancer.

Other sources of phytoestrogens. The active ingredients in most dietary supplements for menopause are phytoestrogens - chemicals found in plants that may act like the estrogen produced naturally in the body. These include herbs, such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root.

Bioidentical hormone therapy. Bioidentical hormones are custom-mixed formulas containing various hormones that are chemically identical to those naturally made by your body. These over-the-counter products are marketed as being tailored to a woman's individual hormone needs. There are two main types of Bioidentical hormones:

  • Those that are FDA-approved and commercially available with a prescription

  • Those that are mixed on an individual basis for women in compounding pharmacies, which are NOT FDA-approved

It is important to know that alternative therapies can affect medical care by introducing personal belief systems that are not typically a part of the doctor-patient relationship.

The Federal Government Source for Women's Health Information, US Department of Health and Human Services

Last Editorial Review: 4/15/2008