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Side Effects of Menopause Treatments

In an ideal world, menopause treatments would make all your symptoms vanish without causing a single side effect. Unfortunately, the reality is not this simple. While treatments may offer relief from your symptoms, they can often come with side effects or an increased risk of contracting other diseases. Educating yourself about these side effects and accompanying risks is important when making decisions about your treatment plan. Read on to learn more about menopause treatments and their side effects.

Herbal Supplements

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In recent years, more and more women have turned to herbs to curb their menopausal symptoms. This is because instead of introducing synthetic estrogens into the body, herbal supplements for menopause contain plant-based estrogens (called phytoestrogens) that help restore hormone balance. Popular herbs used to treat menopause include: black cohosh, dong quai, ginkgo biloba, and soy.

However, because herbs for menopause have not been adequately studied by the medical community, their prolonged usage (longer than six months) is discouraged. Possible interactions and side effects have not been determined for most herbs. It is known however, that both black cohosh and soy could increase the risk of breast cancer in women. However, there is another type of herbal supplement useful in treating menopause symptoms: hormone-regulating herbal supplements, these supplements nourish and stimulate the endocrine glands without side effects.

HRT

One of the most popular menopause treatments available is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT works to curb symptoms and restore hormone balance by introducing synthetic hormones into the body. These hormones generally come in the form of estrogen-only or estrogen-plus-progestin (synthetic progesterone).

While many women have positive experiences with HRT treatments, they do carry some reported side effects, which include:

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  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Cramped or bloated stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Fluid retention
  • Breast tenderness
  • Eye irritation
  • Discolored skin patches

Additionally, most experts recommend that HRT treatments are discontinued after a period (no more than six months) or taken at the lowest possible dosage. This is because increased amounts of foreign estrogens in the female body have been linked with increased instances of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Recommendation

One way to escape the side effects of menopause treatments is to make simple lifestyle changes that help restore hormone balance. Maintaining a regular exercise regime and a well-balanced diet is advisable for bolstering your immune system and energy levels. Click here to read more information about menopause treatments.

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Sources:
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
  • Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.