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Treatments in Endocrinology

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 101–113 | Cite as

A Review of Non-Hormonal Options for the Relief of Menopausal Symptoms

  • Paola Albertazzi
Review Article

Abstract

The climacteric syndrome involves a variety of symptoms such as profuse sweating, insomnia, memory loss, decreased sexual drives, joint aches, and anxiety. However, amongst these symptoms, hot flashes and sweats are generally considered the hallmark and result in the majority of the medical consultations for this condition. Hot flashes are known to respond readily to placebo, which alone decreases their frequency by 20–40%. In the ideal setting of clinical trials, with optimal patient selection and compliance, estrogen therapy reduces hot flashes by about 70–80%; this is twice as effective as placebo. However, estrogen is unable to be universally used, either because of contraindications or because of an unwillingness of women to take it. Furthermore, hot flashes may persist in spite of adequate estrogen replacement, and physicians are often faced with the dilemma of finding something to administer in place of, or in addition to, estrogen to improve symptoms. The most commonly used non-hormonal alternatives for climacteric symptoms are neurotransmitter modulators such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors and gabapentin. These are, at best, approximately half as effective as estrogen for the relief of menopausal symptoms, and are only marginally better than placebo.

Complementary treatment, particularly over-the-counter phytotherapeutic extracts, are very popular and women often try a variety of such products before resorting to conventional medicine. Preparations containing isoflavones, such as soy extract and red clover or extracts from evening primrose or cimicifuga (black cohosh, Actaea racemosa, syn. Cimicifuga racemosa), in variable doses are very popular for the treatment of hot flashes. The scientific support for their efficacy certainly does not equal their popularity.

Non-hormonal treatments for menopause are not as effective as estrogens in relieving hot flashes, but may have a role in therapy for women who have contraindications to gonadal steroid use.

Keywords

Postmenopausal Woman Gabapentin Survive Breast Cancer Venlafaxine Menopausal Symptom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Metabolic Bone DiseaseHull Royal InfirmaryHullUK

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