Early menopause tied to multiple health problems later in life
"It's really critical that women prioritize, with their primary care provider, what's bothering them most," Reed said.
Along this line, the group found that cognitive behavioral therapy delivered via phone conversations was very effective for improving sleep.
"This had not been studied before, with the party line being that estrogen was effective for sleep at midlife," Reed said. "But we found that a telephone-based intervention was as good as estrogen therapy, if not better. It would be exciting to see healthcare organizations looking at rolling out a simple, telephone-based therapy for menopausal sleep problems."
The study also evaluated common treatments, such as using the herbal supplement black cohosh or a diet rich in soy to treat hot flashes. The trials found these treatments ineffective. Yoga, exercise, and omega 3 vitamins also were evaluated for relief of hot flashes, but none was supported by the study data. Reed hastened to add, though, that yoga and exercise help overall quality of life and health.
The investigators also found that estrogen therapy in the form of a tablet did not provide symptom improvement for vaginal dryness that was any greater than observed with a placebo.
Reed said future research will examine the vaginal microbiome of menopausal women as well as the brain area beside the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature and cold stimuli.
"We know there is a lot of crosstalk between the neurons in the reproductive center and this thermoregulatory center, and that they chat back an forth."
Non-hormonal medications are being developed to address thermoregulation, sleep, and weight gain and may provide relief for women with severe menopausal symptoms who are unable, or disinclined, to use hormonal therapies. Source:
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