Hormone Replacement Therapy Alternatives

Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings are often experienced in menopausal women that were combated with hormone replacement therapy. Now women are wondering how to treat their menopausal symptoms without taking the risk of developing breast cancer heart disease, stroke, or blood clots by using hormone replacement therapy alternatives.

Click here to read more about hormone replacement therapy alternatives.

Previous Hormone Replacement Therapy Studies Inefficient

The largest study performed on hormone replacement therapy prior to the Women's Health Initiative study was at the end of the 1970s by the National Institute on Aging that did not have one woman in it. It was not until pressure from women's groups and congresswomen that the 1991 Women's Health Initiative hormone replacement therapy study was launched in order to gain insight to the ongoing debate on whether or not hormones were beneficial or harmful to women. The study was terminated early, after just five years, because the researchers found it unethical to the over 16,000 women participating due to the number of risks associated to hormone replacement therapy.

 

HRT Alternatives

After the announcement of the dangerous hormone replacement therapy side effects that were found to occur in healthy women, the six million American women that were using the estrogen/progestin combination are now trying to figure out possible hormone replacement therapy alternatives. For some women, discontinuing hormone replacement therapy will be no problem, but for the women who have been taking estrogen/progestin for many years now, it has become a way of life for them and there is need for a hormone replacement therapy alternative. Doctors and medical groups were not prepared for the number of questions and concerned patients after news of the unanticipated event. Doctors were forced to take their phones off the hook because they did not yet have the answers for what their patients should do.

Hormone replacement therapy had become such a common prescription that every year 70 million prescriptions were written for hormone replacement therapy that doctors encouraged almost every woman that had not had a hysterectomy to use when beginning menopause. The American College of Obstetricians has just issued guidelines on the most popular hormone replacement therapy alternative medicines to treat menopause.

If you are currently taking hormone replacement therapy, you are advised to contact your doctor immediately and to find a hormone replacement therapy alternative.

  • Soy and Isoflavones (plant estrogens found in beans, particularly soybeans) - High isoflavone intake (about 50 grams of soy protein per day) may be helpful in the short term (2 years or less) as a hormone replacement therapy alternative in relieving hot flashes and night sweats. Taken over the long term, it also may have beneficial effects on cholesterol and bones. While safe in dietary amounts, the consumption of extraordinary amounts of soy and isoflavone supplements may interact with estrogen and may be harmful to women with a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer and possibly to other women as well.

    • St. John's Wort - If used as a hormone replacement therapy alternative, this drug may be helpful in the short-term (2 years or less) to treat mild to moderate depression in women (when given in doses of less than 1.2 milligrams a day.) A recent study showed it is not effective in treating severe depression. It also can increase skin sensitivity to the sun and may interfere with prescription antidepressants.

  • Black Cohosh - May be helpful in the short term (6 months or less) to treat hot flashes and night sweats. It seems to be an extremely safe hormone replacement therapy alternative, although studies have been small and brief, none longer than six months.

    • Chasteberry (also known as monk's pepper, Indian spice, sage tree hemp, and tree wild pepper) - This may inhibit prolactin, a natural hormone that acts on the breast. It is touted for breast pain and premenstrual syndrome. There are very few studies used as a hormone replacement alternative in menopausal women. A study of women with premenstrual syndrome found they reported improvements in mood, anger, headache, breast fullness, but not bloating and other symptoms.

  • Evening Primrose - This plant produces seeds rich in gamma-linolenic acid, which some experts believe is the nutritionally perfect fatty acid for humans. Although evening primrose capsules are taken for breast pain, bladder symptoms and menopausal symptoms, there is little or no evidence that they work as a hormone replacement alternative. The one high quality study of effects on hot flashes found that evening primrose was no better than placebo.

    • Dong Quai - A study aimed at reducing hot flashes found that dong quai as a hormone replacement therapry alternative was not better than placebo - although the 4.5-gram dose used in the study was lower than that typically given in Chinese medicine. The herb is potentially toxic. It contains compounds that can thin the blood, causing excessive bleeding, and make the skin more sensitive to sun, possibly increasing skin cancer risk.

  • Valerian Root - This has traditionally been used as a tranquilizer and sleeping aid. But the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, which sets manufacturing standards for medicines, does not support its use, and there have been reports of heart problems and delirium attributed to sudden withdrawal from valerian.

    • Ginseng - Most of the many types of ginseng (including Siberian, Korean, and American, white and red) are promoted for relieving stress and boosting immunity. A study of menopausal women by the leading ginseng manufacturer found the product did not relieve hot flashes but did improve women's sense of well-being if used as a hormone replacement therapy alternative. Analyses of ginseng products have found a troubling lack of quality control: some contained little or no ginseng, contained large amounts of caffeine, or was tainted by pesticides or lead.

  • Wild and Mexican Yam - There are no published reports that show wild and Mexican yam cream is effective in helping menopausal symptoms. The hormones in wild and Mexican yam do not have any estrogenic or progestational properties, so they are not expected to help women with these symptoms or be used as a hormone replacement therapy alternative.

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