Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Many Alternative Treatments for Menopause are Safe and Effective

Because of the health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, many women seek alternative treatments for menopause. Menopause facts are fairly well known, decreasing levels of estrogen in the years leading up to and during menopause cause a number of frustrating symptoms. Some women only experience mild discomfort. Most women experience hot flashes. Some women have night sweats, mood swings, vaginal discomfort, decreased libido, bladder control problems, trouble sleeping, racing heart, headaches and other aches and pains. Dropping estrogen levels can trigger irritability, anxiety, aggressiveness and tearfulness. And, in some cases, women experience their first encounter with major depression.

Finding alternative treatments for menopause that address all of these symptoms may be difficult. It may be easier to look at each symptom individually.

Hot Flashes

The menopause facts accumulated over years of study and research indicate that the majority of women experience hot flashes during menopause. The face and chest feel flushed and warm. The back of the neck feels hot. Increased sweating often occurs. Hot flashes that occur at night are referred to as night sweats and do not appear to be as common as hot flashes, but no recent surveys have been conducted concerning these menopause facts, even though it is a commonly held belief.

A number of alternative treatments for menopause related hot flashes have been examined for safety and effectiveness. These include acupuncture, nutrient therapy, phytoestrogen supplementation (soy isoflavones, red clover), stress reduction therapy and herbal remedies. The concern expressed by researchers at the Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is that, as of 2003, none of the phytoestrogens and herbal remedies that show promise had been evaluated for long term use. However, numerous studies in the last three years have supported the safety and effectiveness of black cohosh for relief of hot flashes.

Just one example is the study performed by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, National Center of Excellence in Women?s Health, Chicago, IL. Researchers evaluated accumulated menopause facts from over the years and concluded that ?Black cohosh appears to be one of the most effective botanicals for relief of vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats)... Many other botanicals have limited evidence to demonstrate safety and efficacy for relief of symptoms related to menopause... Health care providers should discuss these issues with their patients so they can assist them in managing these alternative therapies...? July 2006

Bladder Control Problems

Alternative treatments for menopause that address the issue of bladder control problems involve exercises to increase pelvic muscle strength, gradually increasing the bladder?s capacity and reducing caffeinated and artificially sweetened beverages.

Decreased Libido

Decreased libido may be related to painful intercourse because of vaginal dryness or changing hormonal levels. According to the menopause facts from a recent PubMed search, not all women experience a decreased sex drive during menopause. In fact some experience an increase in sex drive because the risk of pregnancy has passed and the complication of monthly cycles, birth control and other factors make them feel more relaxed. In other words, decreased libido is not a foregone conclusion.

If you have experienced a decrease in your sex drive and are looking for alternative treatments for menopause that can improve sensitivity, vaginal secretions and increase libido, please visit the Menopause and PMS guide.

Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a freelance writer. Currently she writes informational articles focused on women?s health for the Menopause and PMS Guide. Visit us at http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com

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