Menopause and Perimenopause
Menopause and Perimenopause
Medicines can help you cope with bothersome menopause symptoms. Some medicines contain hormones, and some don't.
Hormone therapy is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms. But women who use it may have a higher risk of other health problems.
- Menopause: Should I Use Hormone Therapy (HT)?
If your symptoms are the result of early menopause brought on by having your ovaries removed along with your uterus, you may consider estrogen therapy (ET). But ET may increase the risk of health problems in a small number of women.
- Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy: Should I Use Estrogen Therapy (ET)?
- Birth control pills regulate menstrual bleeding and can relieve symptoms until
menopause. They aren't used after menopause.
- Progestin pills and the
levonorgestrel IUD release a form of
progesterone into the uterus. This reduces heavy, irregular menstrual periods. Some women have side effects.
- Low-dose vaginal estrogen (cream, tablet, or ring) reduces dryness and other tissue changes in and around the vagina.
- Hormone therapy (HT) in pill, patch, vaginal ring, gel, or cream form can be used to treat
menopause symptoms. Experts recommend that HT only be used at the lowest
effective dose for the shortest possible period of time.2
- Bioidentical hormones are made in a lab to be similar to
human-produced hormones. But they aren't well
researched and may carry the same health risks that traditional HT
does.3 Any form of hormone therapy is best taken for
as short a time as possible.
- Estrogen therapy (ET) is used to prevent
weakening bones and the severe symptoms that come with sudden, early menopause.
- Testosterone with estrogen is sometimes used for menopausal
symptoms that don't improve with estrogen therapy. But it isn't FDA-approved,
because its risks aren't yet fully known. Testosterone with estrogen carries the
same risks as estrogen treatment (blood clots, stroke, breast cancer) as well
as testosterone risks and side effects.
Short-term, low-dose HT or ET can
be taken for up to 4 to 5 years, with regular checkups. This may work well for
many women, who will find that their menopause symptoms have subsided within
this period of time.
- Antidepressants can lower the number and
severity of hot flashes. They may also help with irritability, depression, and moodiness.
- Clonidine, a high blood pressure medicine, can reduce
the number and severity of hot flashes.4 Some women
have side effects related to low blood pressure.
- Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an antiseizure medicine. It can
reduce the number and severity of hot flashes.5
Possible side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, and swelling.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
April 26, 2012
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