What to do about hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal symptoms if you don’t want to take hormones? Here are five natural remedies that may take the heat out of menopause for good…
It used to be that managing menopause symptoms – hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings – meant one thing: hormone replacement therapy.
Doctors long believed that hormones were best for not only combatting those bothersome menopausal symptoms, but also for preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.
But in the early 2000s, a major U.S. study revealed that hormone replacement therapy wasn’t protective against either condition and actually increased the risk of both stroke and breast cancer.
As a result, many women stopped taking hormone therapy.
Today, we know that in some cases hormone therapy can be effective and safe. Still, many women prefer drug-free ways to deal with the menopausal symptoms that occur in our late 40s and early 50s as our bodies begin to produce less estrogen.
Many women continue to have moderate to severe hot flashes for an average of nearly five years after menopause, according to a University of Pennsylvania study published in early 2014 in the journal Menopause. In fact, more than a third of women experience moderate or severe hot flashes for 10 years or more after menopause.
To avoid taking estrogen – but still find relief – some women have turned to remedies, such as soy, herbs and other supplements. But do these natural remedies make menopause easier?
“[Supplements and herbs] are generally not very effective, [according to] well-done medical research trials,” says Diana Bitner, M.D., an OB-GYN at Spectrum Health Medical Group in Grand Rapids, Mich., who is a specialist in midlife and menopausal medicine.
“But for some individual women, they are effective,” she adds.
The results vary because menopause doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
“These symptoms can be the result of many co-factors, such as sleep deprivation, life events and associated stress, vitamin and dietary excesses or deficiencies, medical problems. Depending on an individual woman’s situation, a given treatment might work or it might not,” Dr. Bitner says.