16 Most Common Menopause Treatments
Updated December 11, 2018
Reviewer Aaron Horn
1. Hormone Therapy Treatments
The primary menopause treatments that are approved by the FDA are hormone therapy treatments. There are many studies proving that these treatments work to alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause. In particular, hormone replacement therapy eliminates vaginal dryness and vasomotor symptoms and decreases the risk of osteoporosis and Alzheimer's.
There are several methods of hormone therapy treatments. There are oral, topical and vaginal treatments. It is a good idea to learn about all of your options so that you can have an informed discussion with your doctor.
2. Hormonal Birth Control
In the years leading up to your final period, hormonal birth control can greatly alleviate many of the symptoms of menopause. It can help with mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, and heavy or irregular periods.
Keep in mind that you should not use hormonal birth control if you are a smoker. This treatment can increase the risk of forming blood clots in the legs. Smoking greatly increases this risk, especially when combined with other hormonal treatments.
3. Oral Estrogen Replacements
The most research has been done on oral estrogen replacements. Several medications are used for this type of menopause treatment. The most common brands are Premarin, Estrace, and Estratab.
There are many side effects of hormone replacement therapy in general but taking estrogen orally can have some additional side effects. It has been found that this medication is very hard on the liver. If you have liver problems or poor liver function, you should look into a different method of estrogen replacement.
4. Estrogen Patches
Estrogen patches are patch treatments that you place on the skin, usually on the belly below the waist. They usually only have to be replaced about once or twice a week, depending on your doctor's instructions and the severity of your symptoms.
The good thing about estrogen patches is that they bypass the liver and go directly into the blood, so in that way, they are safer than oral medications. On the other hand, not many studies have been done on the patches because they are newer, and as such the full scope of side effects is not yet known.
5. Topical Estrogen Treatments
Several topical treatments are sometimes used for estrogen replacement therapy. They may come in the form of a cream, a spray, or a gel. The part of the body that they are applied to varies by the type and brand of the topical treatment. Again, these are relatively new, so while they are believed to be less harmful than oral estrogen, it is too early to know for sure.
6. Vaginal Estrogen Treatments
There are also many estrogen treatments that are applied through the vagina. They may come in the form of creams, suppositories, or rings. These treatments are primarily recommended for women who have particularly devastating vaginal dryness and itchiness. Some of the treatments are a low dose and only affect the vaginal area, which limits some of the harmful side effects of estrogen on the rest of the body.
There are only three medications that are not estrogen replacement therapies that are approved by the FDA for treatment of menopausal symptoms. These medications are not widely prescribed, because often patients are on hormone replacement therapy that manages their symptoms. However, if you are having particularly painful or disturbing symptoms, these medications can be helpful.
Bisdelle is a low dose serotonin reuptake inhibitor typically used to treat depression. It has been found in studies that this medication can help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats in women who do not have mood or anxiety problems before menopause.
Osphena is a medication that acts like estrogen in the body but is not an estrogen replacement therapy. It is used for the treatment of extremely painful burning sensations occurring during or after sexual activity.
Prasterone is another medication prescribed for vaginal discomfort during sex. Unlike Osphena, this medication is applied directly to the vagina on a daily basis. It helps eliminate vaginal dryness as well as pain and discomfort.
11. Alternative Treatments
The pharmaceutical companies do not provide many alternative treatments. These treatments can sometimes be either more or less expensive than traditional treatments. Many people try these treatments because they do not want the side effects of the pharmaceutical options.
However, it is important to note that the following alternative treatments are not approved or regulated by the FDA. Also, studies have not shown that these alternative treatments are effective. Still, many women swear by these alternative treatments. Before starting any treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor about the possible effects.
12. Bioidentical Therapy
There are many companies out there selling products that they call bioidentical therapies. They use this term to indicate that their supplements are the same as estrogen replacement therapy, although they contain no estrogen. No studies are backing up these claims, and they are not approved or regulated by the FDA. However, some women swear by these treatments.
Several herbs can be ingested to assist with symptoms of menopause. These alternative menopause treatments are well established, but they may not work for everyone. The most common herbs used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms are black cohosh, red clover, and American Ginseng.
14. Yoga For Menopause
Many women find that mind and body exercises like yoga and tai chi are good for managing their symptoms of menopause. Six primary yoga poses are good for managing symptoms.
The Nadi Shodana is quite literally alternate nostril breathing. Sit comfortably, and practice breathing in through one nostril and out the other. After several cycles, switch nostrils.
Childs Pose Into Sphinx is another good yoga pose for menopause treatment. You sit in child's pose, then open up your hips and lay your torso on your thighs. Then, slowly extend your body into the sphinx pose.
Cat and Cow are good yoga movements as well. Get on all fours, and arch your back up for the cat, then lower your spine in the form of the cow. This repetitive movement encourages suppleness of the spine.
Legs Up the Wall with Heart Opener is another good yoga pose. You lie on your back with your buttocks against the wall and your legs against the wall straight up in the air. Then arch your shoulders back and lift your torso to open your heart.
Folding into a Bridge is a good yoga pose for keeping the body supple. Start in a seated position leaning forward touching your ankles. Then, move into a bridge by lying on your back and bringing your heels closer to your buttocks. The seated forward position is good for decompressing the nervous system, and the bridge helps you feel rooted.
Savasana is the final helpful yoga pose for menopause treatment. Lie on the floor with your entire body in contact with the earth.
15. Essential Oils
Three main essential oils are used in the treatment of menopause. You can use these essential oils by rubbing them on the feet and back of the neck one to three times daily. If you have skin sensitivity to the oils, you can dilute them with coconut oil.
Clary Sage is the primary essential oil that you will find helpful. It is good for balancing hormones and can alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, and anxiety. The second essential oil to get is chamomile, as it reduces stress and has a calming effect. Finally, thyme oil can help balance hormones as well.
16. Treatment Through Diet
Like with many health conditions, the foods you eat can have a major impact on symptoms. One of the best things you can do to treat your menopause symptoms is to eat the right foods and avoid other foods that may be inflammatory to your symptoms.
Some of the best foods you can eat are fruits and vegetables. The dietary fiber is good for your body in general, and they contain phytosterols that can help with hormone imbalances. High fiber foods will help alleviate symptoms of weight gain and digestive issues.
Soy is a great food to eat when you are experiencing a lot of menopausal symptoms because it contains plant-based estrogen. Consuming a lot of omega three fatty acids, found primarily in fish, can also help you manage symptoms because they assist in hormone production.
Avoid packaged foods whenever possible, as the chemicals, preservatives and high carbohydrates can exacerbate hormone changes. Conventional or farm raised meats can also be bad, because they may have additional hormones that will cause further imbalance. To help alleviate the symptoms of weight gain and digestive issues, avoid foods high in sugar and carbs, as well as carbonated drinks.
Treatments For Symptoms
Rather than treating the hormone imbalance itself, you may opt to try to treat the symptoms that you are having. There are some very easy things that you can do to manage your symptoms that do not necessarily require supplements, alternative treatments, or medications. Try some of these tricks for managing your menopause symptoms.
Therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist can be very helpful in managing the mood swings and changes that you go through with menopause. Much of the depression that is typically reported with menopause is a result of the stress and anxiety that comes with dealing with other symptoms and simply getting older.
Psychotherapy can help you manage this stress and anxiety and make symptoms more bearable. However, if therapy alone doesn't do the trick, you can turn to antidepressants. Keep in mind however that antidepressants usually take at least two weeks to become effective, and they come with their side effects.
You may find that you are better able to control your bladder if you employ some simple habits. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water to keep urine diluted. Also, avoid high acid and caffeinated foods and beverages. These foods and beverages irritate the bladder lining. You can also do exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, which can help alleviate much of incontinence, particularly stress incontinence.
For Night Sweats
There are several things you can do to help you manage night sweats. First, take a look at the fabric of your nightclothes and bedding. Choose wicking fabrics. You should also layer your bedding so you can peel off layers throughout the night as they get wet.
You can also do some things to help you stay cool while you sleep. Start with an electric fan blowing on your bed and keep cold water by your bed to sip when you wake up in the night. You can also keep an ice pack at your feet or put one under your pillow. By flipping your pillow throughout the night, your head will always be on a cool surface.
Setting routines will help you fall asleep more easily. Start by eliminating screen time for at least an hour before you go to bed. Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends and holidays. Try to keep your sleeping environment comfortable and avoid caffeine and sugar in the late afternoon and evening.
Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers are available over the counter without a prescription, and they can alleviate vaginal dryness that causes discomfort during sex. You should also be aware that sexual activity in and of itself can alleviate some discomfort, as the more sexually active you are, the better your vaginal health.
Making some basic lifestyle changes can help you manage your menopause symptoms as well. These lifestyle changes are good for your overall health and may help alleviate symptoms that other menopause treatments do not affect.
Reduce and Manage Stress
Reducing and managing your stress can help you when you are treating symptoms for mood swings, irritability, and insomnia. A therapist can help you get your stress under control if you need assistance in doing so. Keep expectations reasonable, and don't overtax yourself.
Exercise helps eliminate many risk factors that come up during menopause. It lowers your risk for cardiac medical conditions, weight gain, and bone loss or muscle wasting. Exercise can also help improve your sleep habits.
You should be getting at least thirty minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times per week. You should also be doing some type of strength training at least twice per week. Even if you have not been active in the past, starting this basic exercise routine will greatly help you manage your risks and symptoms.