I’m menopausal but don’t feel I need HRT – should I be taking anything else?
28th April 2019
Although all women will, at some stage, go through the menopause, not everyone will suffer from debilitating symptoms that require medical treatment. For those women who don’t require HRT, or those who choose not to take it, there are numerous products marketed at improving the ‘menopause experience’.
Complimentary therapies are widely used in the UK and I find many of the women I meet have usually tried something already before coming to see me. I’m not an expert on herbal treatments, but there are a few things I think you should know before rushing out to buy them.
The first thing to consider is safety. Although something is herbal, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe! I would always recommend that you buy products from the UK, and look for those with traditional herbal registration (THR) which provides assurance on quality. It is also important to check that there are no interactions with any other medication you might be taking.
The next thing to think about is what evidence there is to support their use. Unfortunately, for most herbal treatments there is very limited evidence available. This doesn’t mean they are not effective, just that there aren’t enough studies out there to provide proof that they are.
Black Cohosh – may help alleviate flushes but it is not fully understood how it works and therefore its long-term safety is not known. This is of particular concern for women who can’t take hormones for reasons such as cancer or liver disease as it may have an estrogen-like effect.
Ginseng, Evening Primrose Oil, Sage, Wild Yam – although marketed to help, there is no supporting evidence that they are better than placebo.
Gingko biloba – short term evidence supports some improvement with memory.
So, whilst I don’t actively recommend the use of these therapies, as long as there are no contraindications to you personally taking them, they may be worth considering if you are troubled by mild symptoms. But I would recommend discontinuing use if you don’t notice any improvements.
In my opinion, healthy lifestyle choices are much more important and will offer you longer term health benefits that become significant as you approach menopause and beyond – see my other post on this!!