Menopause can usher in an array of bothersome symptoms, and finding effective relief becomes a priority for many women. The good news: Medications can help manage these symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
Read on to learn about the most common menopause medications, how they work and their common side effects. Understanding your options during this transitional phase of life can help you make informed decisions in collaboration with your healthcare providers.
A wide array of medications are available to help you manage menopause symptoms, each targeting specific kinds of relief. This section will explore the various types of menopause medications, including their benefits and common side effects associated with each drug category.
From hormone therapy, lubricants, and moisturizers to other specialized treatments like antidepressants, medications can play a vital role in alleviating menopause-related discomfort.
Hormone therapy is a standard treatment for managing menopause vasomotor symptoms (VMS), relieving hot flashes, vaginal dryness and related concerns. These are some commonly prescribed hormone therapy drugs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
- Estrogen with progestin
The first three categories of medications — estrogen, estrogen with progestin, and progestin — replenish declining hormone levels in the body, addressing the underlying hormonal imbalance. It’s essential, however, to be aware of potential side effects, such as breast tenderness, bloating and mood swings, which may vary depending on the medication used.
Further, Mayo Clinic points out that in extensive clinical trials, estrogen-progestin hormone replacement pills have been associated with an increased risk of severe conditions, including heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer. Subsequent research has indicated that these risks may vary based on several factors.
For example, age plays a role. Starting hormone therapy before age 60 or within 10 years of menopause potentially outweighs the risks. And according to the FDA, women 65 years or older may have an increased risk of dementia associated with hormone medication use. For women who have not undergone a hysterectomy, estrogen-only medications may raise the likelihood of developing cancer of the uterine lining, also known as endometrial cancer, necessitating the use of progestin to prevent it.
The specific type and dose of hormones, as well as personal health history and risk factors, should be