Natural Approaches Address Menopause

Some 50% to 80% of menopausal women turn to non-hormonal therapies to try and gain some relief from hot flashes, though many non-hormonal treatments are ineffective, meaning that women keep on suffering until they finally find a treatment that works. Results of a recent review have shown that there are several non-hormonal treatments that can successfully dampen hot flashes. Research has shown that a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach, which combined relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, and learning to take a positive approach to menopause challenges, was effective at reducing women’s ratings of hot flash problems (although it did not reduce the number of hot flashes). Another treatment, proven to help women in randomized, controlled trials, is clinical hypnosis. Various non-hormonal prescription medications can be of help, although these may not offer as much relief as hormones. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including paroxetine, are the only FDA-approved non-hormonal therapy for hot flashes, and they can offer mild to moderate improvements. Other medications shown to be helpful include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), the gabapentinoids, and clonidine. Other treatments that may help include weight loss, stress reduction, a soy derivative (S-equol), and a type of nerve block called stellate ganglion block, although the evidence that these treatments are effective isn’t as strong. There is no evidence to support theories that exercise, yoga, paced respiration, and acupuncture work for hot flashes, however these approaches do offer other health benefits.

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