- Resources for Patients
- The Endocrine System
- What is an Endocrinologist?
- What Do Hormones Do?
- Endocrine Diseases and Conditions
- Myth vs. Fact
- Downloadable Resources
- Cooking for Pleasure and Health
- Menopause Map
- Living Your Best Life with Diabetes
- Resources for Health Professionals
- En Español
- Endocrinology: Science & Policy
Menopause Treatment Options
Treatment for the symptoms of menopause can be approached in two phases:
You and your doctor should form a partnership and share information that will help you make the best decisions about your health. There are many things to keep in mind, because menopause and the years that follow it usually cover the second half of a woman's life. Talk to your doctor about all of the treatment choices to decide what is right for you.
Please also see the attached Table - Treating Your Menopausal Symptoms: The Quick Pros and Cons.
Hormone Treatment Options
Many women want to address the hormone imbalance and keep estrogen levels by taking estrogen, because it is often the most effective way to relieve many of the troubling symptoms of menopause. Estrogen increases the risk of uterine cancer, if taken alone, however. For this reason, women who still have a uterus usually take a combination of estrogen with a form of progesterone, called progestin, which helps to protect the uterus. The combination of estrogen and progesterone is called hormone therapy.
If a woman no longer has a uterus, she can take estrogen alone, which is called estrogen therapy.
If you have a family history of breast cancer or have survived breast cancer, you probably should not take either estrogen or hormone therapy. You also should not take estrogen if you have had cancer of the uterus, liver disease, a history of blood clots, heart disease or any unusual bleeding from the vagina.
Estrogen can help to reduce hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and possibly skin changes. It is also an effective way to protect your bones from rapid weakening as you age.
Treating the symptoms of early menopause:
The following are some other ways to treat your symptoms of the hormone imbalance that occurs during menopause without choosing hormones:
Tamoxifen, which is used to prevent breast cancer, and raloxifene, which is used to prevent osteoporosis, are drugs known as "designer estrogens." These medications have been developed to act as beneficially as estrogen on some tissues and to act as estrogen-blockers on other tissues. These drugs also are known by their more technical name - Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs).
Tamoxifen, however, acts like an estrogen on the uterus, increasing the risk of uterine cancer. Raloxifene blocks harmful effects of estrogen on the breast and does not stimulate the lining of the uterus, so women who still have a uterus may want to try this drug. Unfortunately, neither of the "designer estrogens" addresses all the symptoms of menopause in all women, and some women experience hot flashes with raloxifene or tamoxifen.