The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has updated their guidelines for managing menopause and some of the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany it.
According to the College, 50-82% of all women going through menopause experience hot flashes and night sweats; for some, this can interfere with sleep patterns — daily routines may also be disrupted.
The new guidelines state that low doses of Effexor and Prozac may help alleviate those symptoms in some women.
Before the new millenium, standard treatment of menopausal symptoms was through hormone replacement therapy. Women were either placed on estrogen only or on a combination of estrogen and progesterone. However, a 2002 study determined that women who are placed on HRT are at a greater risk for blood clots, heart attack and breast cancer. Since then, the number of women placed on HRT has plummeted, according to Dr Clarisa Garcia, co-author of the updated guidelines.
Later studies have shown that younger women may not be at a greater — the 2002 study included women over 60; the average age for menopause is 51.
Dr. Garcia, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania, also states that although Effexor and Prozac have been proven to help manage menopausal transition, they do not work as well as HRT. Regardless of age, women who should not be put on HRT are those who have had blood clots, heart attack or breast cancer.
Currently, the FDA has only approved of one antidepressant to treat menopausal symptoms — Paxil.
According to the US National Institute on Aging, the ovaries get smaller as a woman approaches menopause, which is defined as not having a menstrual period for 12 months or longer. Women should not assume they have reached menopause when their periods become irregular — the Institute states that a woman can get pregnant during perimenopause and that precautions should be taken until she hasn’t had a period for at least one year.