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Hot Flashes and Menopause (cont.)

Medications

Both oral and transdermal (applied via a cream or patch to the skin) estrogen are available either as estrogen alone or estrogen combined with progesterone. All available prescription estrogen replacement medications, whether oral or transdermal, are effective in reducing the frequency of hot flashes and typically reduce the frequency of hot flashes by about 80% to 90%. However, as described above, hormone therapy may carry some health risks.

  • The drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly used in the treatment of depression and anxiety, have been shown in studies to be effective in reducing menopausal hot flashes. The SSRI that has been tested most extensively is venlafaxine (Effexor), although other SSRI drugs may be effective as well.
  • Clonidine (Catapres) is a drug that decreases blood pressure. Clonidine, taken either by pill or skin patch, effectively relieves hot flashes in some women. It is associated with some side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness, or difficulty sleeping.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin), a drug primarily used for the treatment of seizures, has also been effective in treating hot flashes.
  • Progestin drugs have also been successfully used to treat hot flashes. Megestrol acetate (Megace) is sometimes prescribed over a short-term to help relieve hot flashes. Serious effects can occur if the medication is abruptly discontinued, and megestrol is not usually recommended as a first-line drug to treat hot flashes. An unpleasant side effect of Megestrol is that it may lead to weight gain. Another form of progesterone, medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) administered by injection, can also sometimes be useful in treating hot flashes, but may also lead to weight gain as well as bone loss.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/23/2014

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