Women can manage their menopausal symptoms without the use
of hormones but not all alternative therapies work.
A review of all the evidence on non-hormonal treatments for me
nopause has found Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and hypnosis are effective treatments.
Professor Martha Hickey from the Royal Women’s Hospital and University of Melbourne, who led the review published in the British Medical Journal, says CTP, in particular, should be considered by doctors as an option to treat women going through menopause.
“There’s growing evidence that you don’t need to take drugs, ba
sically,” said Professor Hickey.
“Cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis are both very effective methods for managing hot flushes,” Prof Hickey added.
Hot flushes are the most common and the most problematic symptom of menopause. And while they are a physiological response, the evidence suggests the mind can help alleviate the experience for women.
“It’s about the integration with the mind and the body in a way that nobody really understands,” said Professor Hickey.
“What cognitive behavioural therapy particularly does is it reduces the impact of the symptoms, so women may get the same number or same severity of the symptoms of hot flushes but they’re less troubled by them,” explained Professor Hickey.
Lifestyle changes such as exercise and relaxation can improve general health, although the review did not directly improve hot flushes.
Most common over-the-counter ‘natural’ preparations or products sold online do not work, warned Prof Hickey.
“There is a lot of information on the internet about treatments for menopause, but many of these are not supported by high quality research,” said Prof Hickey.
There is no advice, however, against taking hormones, noted Prof Hickey.
“Hormone therapy is very effective for menopause symptoms but there are many newer options, including psychological treatments such as CBT which can also be effective.
“The message here is really about the effective alternative options that are available,” said Prof Hickey.