How Do Medications Help in Menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological process characterized by an array of symptoms. Since all women are different, they experience these symptoms differently. While some of them find menopause hot flashes and night sweats tolerable, others find them frustrating due to their increased intensity. Although menopause doesn’t require medical treatment, medications and therapies are available and their primary aim is reducing the intensity of symptoms and preventing or managing chronic conditions. This article’s main purpose is providing useful insight into medications used to help women manage menopause. Let’s see how they help.
Hormone therapy (HT) is the most common and one of the most effective treatment options for relieving menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. The International Journal of Epidemiology published a paper that discussed HT’s potential benefits. The paper stated that multiple clinical trials have shown estrogen therapy is an effective treatment for vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Furthermore, several studies have demonstrated that HT has the potential to reduce vaginal dryness and urethritis. It is advised to consult your doctor about this treatment. In most cases, the doctor assigns the lowest dose possible for the shortest period of time.
Besides hot flashes and night sweats, menopause also is characterized by vaginal dryness. The benefits of estrogen in treating vaginal dryness are well-documented. To relieve vaginal dryness, estrogen can be administered directly to the vagina via vaginal tablet, cream or ring. According to a study published in the Journal of Pelvic Medicine and Surgery, the local application of estrogen relieves symptoms of atrophic vaginitis, including irritation, dryness and itching. Moreover, vaginal estrogen also proved to have favorable effects on urinary tract infections, sexuality and incontinence. These menopause products release only a low dose of estrogen, which quickly is absorbed by vaginal tissues.
A study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine discovered antidepressants have the ability to reduce menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats. In fact, they are nearly as effective as estrogen therapy. For example, the study included 350 women who were categorized in different groups and assigned estrogen therapy, antidepressant or placebo. After eight weeks, hot flashes and night sweats decreased by 53 percent in women on estrogen therapy and 48 percent in participants on antidepressants. Low-dose antidepressants are useful for women who don’t want to receive estrogen therapy or can’t for health reasons. Also, they are beneficial for women who want to manage mood disorders.
The primary purpose of gabapentin is treating seizures, but it’s also used to relieve hot flashes in menopause therapy. The journal Menopause published findings from a study that analyzed the effectiveness of this medication for treating menopause symptoms. The study included 200 participants randomized into two groups. One group received gabapentin and the second group received a placebo. Researchers discovered hot flashes in the gabapentin group decreased by 51 percent compared to 26 percent in the placebo group. The scientists concluded the study by emphasizing that gabapentin is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for hot flashes. This therapy usually is assigned to women who can’t, or don’t want to, use estrogen therapy as well as to women who want to manage their migraines.
Medications for prevention/management of osteoporosis
Menopausal women have a high risk of getting osteoporosis. The BCMJ published a paper that showed the acquisition of peak bone mass is around 30 years of age and usually is followed by an annual bone loss of 0.6% before and after menopause. Additionally, for the first 5 to 10 years after menopause bone loss is significantly greater due to low estrogen levels that result in increased activity of the bone-absorbing osteoclasts. The choice of medical treatment for the prevention and management of osteoporosis is up to the healthcare provider. Your doctor will assess your health status, current bone loss and risk of osteoporosis and prescribe medications that will decrease bone loss and risk of fractures.
It is important to remember the medications and menopause treatments mentioned throughout this article are prescribed by healthcare providers. Just like all other medications, they do have certain side effects and it is important to inform your doctor about any health conditions, allergies, and other useful information that could prevent unwanted scenarios. However, non-hormonal medications are considered quite safe and effective.
Various medications and treatments are formulated to address symptoms associated with menopause and multiple studies have confirmed their efficacy. Consult your doctor about the best treatment for your symptoms.