Managing Hot Flashes

Half of all women going through menopause report feeling irritable or depressed. One third will experience vaginal dryness, decreased libido (sexual interest), or painful intercourse. 85% will experience hot flashes, but only half of those women find them disturbing. 50% of women experience hot flashes for five years while more than 20% have hot flashes for less than a year.

TREATMENTS CLAIMED TO BE HELPFUL FOR HOT FLASHES
 TREATMENT UPSIDE DOWNSIDE
Estrogen Proven to control the symptoms in more than 90% of women Discussed above
Progesterone Cream Proven to reduce the symptoms in 83% of women Irritability, raises cholesterol
“Natural” Progesterone
(from plants)
Reputed to reduce hot flashes, but so far there’s no scientific proof. Does not raise cholesterol. Suggested dose is 200mg. per day Fatigue and sedation (so usually taken at bedtime)
Exercise May reduce (severe) hot flashes in some women NO DOWNSIDE – you should exercise every day whether you have hot flashes or not!!
Soy Proven to reduce hot flashes by at least 30% You must take a large amount of soy daily (60 grams pure soy protein=250 extra calories/day)
Black Cohash (herb) Not proven to reduce hot flashes (conflicting test results) Not recommended for more than 6 months
Dong Quai (root) None No more effective than a placebo
Evening Primrose Oil None No more effective than a placebo
Antidepressants Not yet proven to help hot flashes
St. John’s Wort Not yet proven to help hot flashes
NOT HELPFUL FOR HOT FLASHES: Flaxseed oil, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, red clover, ginseng, rice bran oil, wild yam, calcium, gotu kola, licorice root, sage, sassaparilla, passion flower, chaste berry, ginkgo biloba, and valerian root