Menopause Treatments and Drugs

Menopause has about more than 30 symptoms associated with it. Some of the more common ones include memory lapses, osteoporosis, depression and hot flashes.  Medications and other treatments are available to help relieve and remedy them.  Since menopause is not a disease but a natural phase in a woman’s life, the signs and symptoms of menopause are the ones targeted by these treatments.  There are three approaches in treating menopausal symptoms and the use of drugs is the last approach. Medications are only given to those suffering from severe menopausal symptoms. What kind of symptom is manifested, its regularity and the degree of its severity will prompt the physician to give the right form of treatment which are non-medicinal treatments first then finally medicines if the earlier approaches don’t work.

Drugs and other therapies for menopause are made to lessen and/or relieve the symptoms and other conditions that may come as you advance in age.  These medications always come with side effects, though, that are usually several and severe. When you consult with your doctor regarding your menopause symptoms you may need to discuss the side effects of these medicines as well.

Some of the treatments and drugs used in the treatment of menopause symptoms include:

  • Vaginal estrogen – This is a drug used to relieve dryness in the vagina. Forms of this medication are usually in cream, ring or tablet form. Vaginal estrogen can also be used to lessen or treat certain urinary symptoms.
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMs – One specific drug called Evista (raloxifene) helps in enhancing the density of the bone of women after menopause. One benefit of this drug compared to estrogn therapy is that they carry no side effects that estrogen therapy has.
  • Hormone replacement therapy – By far, hormone replacement therapy is the most popular form of therapy in the United States.  HRT provides quick responses to menopause symptoms but it does have serious side effects and risks one of which is the likelihood for cancer. HRT is the fastest way to get rid of hot flashes.
  • Bisphosphonates – Bisphosphonates are needed by postmenopausal women who are susceptible to osteoporosis. These drugs include Boniva (ibandronate), Actonel (risedronate), Fosamax (alendronate). These drugs help prevent the risk of bone fractures and bone loss.
  • Clonidine – Available in patch or pill form, this is a drug that helps regulate blood pressure but it has also been shown to lessen the frequency of hot flashes.
  • Gabapentin – Neurontin is one popular brand of this drug and is also effective in minimizing hot flashes. This drug is primarily used to prevent seizures.
  • Seizure drugs – For postmenopausal women, these drugs are utilized to limit the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
  • Mild sedatives – Also used to treat hot flashes.
  • Blood pressure medications – For hot flashes.
  • Low-dose antidepressants – Effexor (Venlafaxine) is one effective antidepressant that treats hot flashes. Other types of this drug like Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil and Prozac among others are useful in treating hot flashes as well as menopausal depression in women.

Alternative Treatments

  • Acupuncture – Some women who have not successfully resolved their postmenopausal symptoms through medications and other conventional approaches have found relief from them using acupuncture therapy. Women who also have a predilection for opting for natural treatments can be helped by acupuncture for their menopause symptoms especially the hot flashes.  Acupuncture was developed by the Chinese thousands of years ago and deals with the energy in the body called chi that provides strength, wellness and vitality in the human body. Energy pathways where chi travels throughout the body are called meridians. Oftentimes, some of these meridians develop blockages preventing chi to nourish and vitalize the affected organs causing illnesses and pain. Acupuncture works by inserting needles into the blocked meridians and removes the blockages or re-channels the flow of chi to restore normal flow to the organs. Acupuncture is effective in limiting the frequency and severity of hot flashes and in depression during and after menopause.
  • Plant estrogens – These include isoflavones and phytoestrogens and they are usually found in flax seed and in soy supplements and beverages. Plant estrogens are useful in the control of hot flashes.Vitamin E – Some experts believe that taking a regular dosage of 400 international units of vitamin E aids in lessening the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women with menopause.
  • Black Cohosh – Black Cohosh is a commonly used phytoestrogen in the US and Europe and is very helpful in the alleviation of hot flashes. It can also aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, bone fracture and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Black Cohosh is not that effective in treating menopausal symptoms though if the female is experiencing surgical menopause instead of natural menopause.Herbs – There are so many available herbal remedies and tea offered in the market for the alleviation of menopause symptoms. These include:
    • Vitex agnus castus – 175 mg everyday
    • Ginseng – 100 – 500 mg thrice daily
    • Evening primrose oil – 500 mg 3 -4 times everyday
    • Dong quai – Half a gram to a full gram each day

Dietary supplements for the relief of menopause symptoms are:

    • Wild yam
    • Chasteberry
    • Licorice
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Scientists have just recently discovered that these types of fatty acids are useful in curtailing the incidence of hot flashes among postmenopausal women. They also provide these women protection against cardiovascular diseases. One particular type of omega-3 fatty acid called Ethyl-Eicosapentaenoic Acid (E-EPA) not only controls hot flashes in postmenopausal women but also helps counteract the depression of these women.

Zuobiao (Roy) Yuan is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of chinese medicine in Edina, MN.