UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U

Vital Signs

Print
Email
 
Spring 2004

Explore Options for Controlling Menopause Symptoms

For years, hormone replacement therapy was believed to offer benefits to perimenopausal women

For years, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) combining forms of estrogen and progestin was believed to offer multiple benefits to perimenopausal women, including short-term relief from hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, and long-term protection against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. But in 2002, a major federal study found that healthy Explore Options for Controlling Menopause Symptoms For years, hormone replacement therapy was believed to offer benefits to perimenopausal women postmenopausal women on HRT showed substantially increased risks for heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and dementia.

“Most physicians have stopped prescribing hormone therapy except when a woman is experiencing debilitating vasomotor symptoms from menopause (extreme hot flashes) that can’t be relieved with any other therapy, and she is aware of the risks,” says Mina Ma, M.D., UCLA internist.

While HRT might be most likely to significantly reduce symptoms, alternatives without the same level of risk exist, including antidepressants, such as the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; and antihypertension medications. Some women have also reported relief from symptoms when they increase consumption of estrogen-containing foods such as soy products, wholegrain cereals, and certain fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamin E and vitamin B complexes, Dr. Ma notes, but until large studies are concluded on these so-called phytoestrogens, their risks and benefits are unclear. Others have turned to herbal supplements with estrogenlike effects, such as black cohosh, though the few studies on such supplements have yielded conflicting results.

Solid options exist to reduce osteoporosis risk; specific medications can prevent bone loss in women starting menopause. Women also should speak to their doctors about controlling risk factors for heart disease.





Add a comment


Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions through the comments feature below. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you!


comments powered by Disqus