can soy cause hot flashes
Menopause brings unique challenges. Learn about whether soy can provide hot flash relief and help with menopause symptoms

For many women, menopause brings unique challenges. During this phase, your estrogen levels drop, causing hot flashes and night sweats

When it comes to natural remedies for menopause symptoms, there have been conflicting opinions as to the pros and cons of soy and soy products. Studies have shown, however, that soy doesn’t cause hot flashes, but in fact may help prevent them.

What causes menopause symptoms?

Menopause refers to a phase in which the body gradually stops producing estrogen and releasing an egg every month. This change in hormones can cause symptoms including:

One treatment method for menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy, which involves taking estrogen to help compensate for the drop in estrogen levels. However, hormone replacement therapy comes with several serious health risks.

Because of this, some women turn to natural remedies to manage symptoms, such as incorporating plant-based estrogen foods such as soy in their diet. This is because soy contains isoflavones, which are thought to have estrogen-like effects that could be effective against menopause symptoms. 

What are isoflavones?

Isoflavones belong to a group of chemicals called phytoestrogens. They act like a weaker form of estrogen in the body.

Genistein and daidzein are the main isoflavones in soy, and these break down in the intestines and may bind to the same receptors as estrogen and mimic their effects. When this happens, the isoflavones may reduce hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.

Which foods are rich in isoflavones?

Isoflavones are mostly found in soy-based products:

Table: Foods containing isoflavones
Food type Isoflavone amount (mg)
Soybeans, green, raw isoflavone 151.17
Soy flour (textured) isoflavone 148.61
Soybeans, dry roasted isoflavone 128.35
Instant beverage soy, powder, not reconstituted isoflavone 109.51
Miso soup mix, dry isoflavone 60.39
Soybean chips isoflavone 54.16
Tempeh, cooked isoflavone 53.00
Soybean curd cheese isoflavone 28.20
Tofu, silken isoflavone 27.91
Tofu, yogurt isoflavone 16.30
Soy milk isoflavone 9.65

Can soy supplements reduce hot flashes?

While studies have shown that isoflavones from soy can modestly reduce the number and severity of hot flashes, they do not work as quickly or as effectively as hormone replacement therapy. For some women, it may take several weeks to reach half of its maximum effect. In many women, it may not work at all.

In addition to this, the effectiveness of consuming soy-based foods for menopause symptoms depends on how the body processes isoflavones. 

As with any diet or supplement, it’s best to talk to your doctor about your concerns and to follow their recommendations.

QUESTION

If menopause occurs in a woman younger than ___ years, it is considered to be premature. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2021
References
Cleveland Clinic. Menopause: Non-Hormonal Treatment & Relief for Hot Flashes. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15223-menopause-non-hormonal-treatment--relief-for-hot-flashes

Woods J. Is Soy A Remedy For Menopausal Symptoms? University of Rochester. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ob-gyn/ur-medicine-menopause-and-womens-health/menopause-blog/march-2015/is-soy-a-remedy-for-menopausal-symptoms.aspx

Levis S, Griebeler ML. The Role of Soy Foods in the Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms. J Nutr. 2010;140(12):2318S-2321S. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/140/12/2318S/4630730