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Menopause Treatments

Everyone experiences menopause differently. Some people have only a few symptoms and don’t need treatment, while others have symptoms that affect their day-to-day life.

Many menopause symptoms are linked. For example, anxiety could lead you to overeat and gain weight, or night sweats could make it hard to sleep and not sleeping well could make you feel irritable.

Fortunately, many treatment options can help. You can try both lifestyle changes and medical treatments.

Lifestyle changes to manage menopause symptoms

Healthy lifestyle changes may help you manage your perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Here are a few to consider:

  • Get regular exercise: Exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep and relieve some symptoms such as hot flashes and weight gain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week. Include cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises. If you are new to exercise, start slowly and build over time.
  • Eat a healthy overall diet: A nutritious diet can help you stay at a healthy weight, reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks and unhealthy fats.
  • Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods: Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong bones, which is especially important during menopause. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables and fortified foods are good options.
  • Include soy in your diet: Soy contains phytoestrogens (plant compounds that have mild estrogen-like effects), which may help reduce some menopause symptoms. You can also find phytoestrogens in beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, grains, flaxseed and some fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit caffeine and spicy foods: They can trigger hot flashes.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep supports your overall health and well-being. Aim for seven to eight hours per night. If you’re not sleeping well, make sure your bedroom is comfortable, cool, dark and quiet. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and take a break from screens for an hour before bedtime.
  • Manage stress: Stress can make menopause symptoms worse. You can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga, meditation, playing music, journaling, massage therapy or spending time in nature.
  • Lower the temperature in your home and dress in layers: These steps may help with hot flashes.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol: They can make the symptoms of menopause worse.
  • Be patient with yourself: It takes time to adjust to the changes of perimenopause and menopause.
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions: Don't try to bottle them up. Stress management can help you process strong emotions and feel more calm.
  • Connect with support: Talk to your partner, friends and family about what you are going through. Consider joining online or in-person support groups.
  • Talk to a therapist or counselor: Mental health support can help if you are struggling to cope with the emotional challenges of perimenopause or menopause.
  • See your health care provider: Your provider can help you manage your symptoms.

Medical treatment options for menopause symptoms

If lifestyle changes aren’t giving you enough relief, your provider can help you with several treatment options that manage the symptoms of menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a standard treatment for perimenopause and menopause. It involves taking synthetic hormones to replace the hormones that your body is no longer producing. It can be very effective in relieving the symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.

However, HRT has some risks. It may raise your risk of blood clots, stroke and breast cancer. Risks are lower within ten years of menopause. If you are considering HRT, talk to your provider about the risks and benefits to decide if it is the right treatment for you.

Vaginal estrogen creams, rings or tablets deliver estrogen directly to the vagina. This treatment can relieve dryness and irritation without the side effects you might get from HRT.

These non-hormonal treatments  may also help relieve symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help relieve headaches, joint pain, muscle aches and breast tenderness.
  • Prescription antidepressant medications can help relieve mood swings, anxiety and depression. These medications, including paroxetine (Brisdelle), may also help treat hot flashes.
  • Prescription sleeping pills can help with sleep problems.
  • Gabapentin (a nerve pain medication) or clonidine (a blood pressure medication) may help with hot flashes.
  • Fezolinetant (Veozah), a medicine that blocks a brain pathway that regulates temperature, may help with hot flashes. This medication can be helpful for those who cannot take estrogen, such as women with a history of breast cancer or blood clots.
  • Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers may relieve vaginal dryness.

Some women try herbal supplements such as black cohosh for hot flashes, flaxseed for night sweats or wild yam instead of hormones, but the effects of these supplements aren’t proven.

Acupuncture may also relieve symptoms. Research is promising, but more studies are needed.

During perimenopause, contact your doctor if your periods are very heavy, last several days longer than usual, happen closer together or if you notice spotting. Your doctor may want to rule out other health conditions.

Learn about postmenopause.