Treatment options during menopause

Phyto-therapy – using the power of plants through menopause

Phyto-therapeutic medications are mostly made from plant extracts. Thus, black cohosh and St. John’s wort favourably influence menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, without affecting the natural hormone regulation.

The following plants can play an important role in the natural management of menopausal symptoms:

Menopause - Black cohosh

Black cohosh: 
Can be used for symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes and sleep disturbances. 

Menopause - St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort:
Can traditionally be used for mood swings with depressive components, irritability and sleep disturbances.

Menopause - Monk’s pepper

Monk’s pepper:
Can be used to treat the premenstrual syndrome and disturbances of menstrual rhythm.

Menopause - Valerian

Valerian:
Can be used to treat sleep disturbances, restlessness and stress states, nervousness and irritability.

Menopause - Sage

Sage:
Can be used to treat sweats and hot flashes during the menopause.

Menopause - Siberian rhubarb

Siberian rhubarb:
Can be used to treat hot flashes, sweats, sleep disturbances and depressive states.

Menopause - Soya

Soya:
Soya can be used, for example, to treat hot flashes thanks to its content of isoflavones.

Rotklee bei Wechseljahrbeschwerden

Red clover
Red clover is very similar to soya, since it also contains isoflavones. Can be used to treat sleep disturbances or hot flashes.

The effects of plant-derived preparations require more time to develop in comparison to hormone therapy. For any treatment, including phyto-therapy, risk, benefit and tolerability must be weighed. Please get advice from a specialist in the Pharmacy or Chemist. 

How important the possibility of receiving plant-based and traditional treatments is deemed to be in Switzerland can be seen from the results of the 2009 referendum in which the Swiss population voted to enshrine complementary medicine in the constitution.

Hormone replacement therapy – hormones during menopause

Hormone replacement therapy artificially rebalances the hormonal changes, which occur during menopause. Hormone therapy consists of oestrogens and luteal hormones, which can be used alternately, together or in varying strengths depending upon the phase of the menopause.

Studies in recent years have identified various risks alongside the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. The WHI  (Women Health Initiative) study, which included more than 25,000 women, investigated, amongst other things, the influence of hormone therapy during menopause on breast cancer, bowel cancer and other forms of cancer. The study had to be closed prematurely, since it identified increased risks of breast cancer, strokes, thromboses, heart disease and pulmonary emboli.

Before starting hormone replacement therapy an extensive examination by a gynaecologist, as well as detailed advice are necessary, since all types of application bring advantages and disadvantages. Depending upon personal medical history, symptoms and lifestyle the application type should be individually selected for and by you.

International specialist organisations recommend that the need for hormone replacement should be regularly reviewed, and that hormones should not be started above the age of 60.

The principles of current hormone therapy during menopause are:

  • Hormone therapy should not be started more than 10 years after the menopause and also should not be started above the age of 60.
  • Hormones should only be used for severe symptoms which reduce the quality of life and are not a lifestyle choice
  • Each hormone therapy should be selected individually with regard to form, dose and duration, and there should be a discussion of the balance of benefits and possible risks. 

Lifestyle during the menopause

A healthy lifestyle is advisable at all stages of life, and with problems like sleep disturbance it may pay to correct bad habits (lack of exercise, unhealthy nutrition, too much alcohol, nicotine, unhealthy sleeping habits). It is unarguable that a balanced lifestyle works very favourably on life expectancy, general health and fitness.

Regular physical activity, sleeping conditions (e.g. room temperature around 18°C, darkness, quiet), relaxation techniques (e.g. yoga, meditation) and the avoidance of drinks, which affect blood vessel regulation, for example coffee and alcohol are all recommended.

Hormonal changes can, however, occur even with a healthy lifestyle. It is important that each woman is allowed to find her own path to a new equilibrium.

  • Phyto-therapy: The action of plant-derived preparations takes longer to develop in comparison to hormone therapy. For any therapy, including phyto-therapy, risks, benefits and tolerability must be clarified. 
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Studies in recent years have revealed various risks as well as the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. The principles of current hormone therapy during the menopause are:

    • No hormone therapy should be started more than 10 years after the menopause or after the 60th year of life.
    • Hormones should only be used for severe symptoms which markedly reduce the quality of life and are not a lifestyle choice
    • Each hormone therapy should be individually selected with regard to form, dosage and duration, with discussion of the balance of benefits and possible risks.