Stop Looking For The Holy Grail Of Menopause TreatmentsJun 10, 2023
Everyone’s talking about the North American Menopause Society’s new recommendations for the treatment of hot flashes and night sweats. They’re calling it a “Nonhormone Therapy Position Statement” and recommending pharmaceutical options, clinical hypnosis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat these symptoms. Nothing new about that, but they did add a list of practices and therapies they don’t recommend, and that’s a first. A problematic first!
Here are just a few of the techniques the Society came out against: yoga, acupuncture, exercise, dietary modifications, mindful breathing, and cooling techniques. To rate therapies on whether they treat or reduce symptoms they were not designed to treat, is not good science any more than it’s good advice–what are we supposed to do with a list of techniques not to try? How about, instead, we present women with a range of options, along with all the available research, instead of discouraging them from even trying a whole range of options?
Now, don't get me wrong–I'm not saying prescription drugs aren't helpful for some women. In fact, they’ve helped me more than once during my trip on this magical menopause flying carpet. From time to time, I’ve taken anti-anxiety medication–and I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you don’t need me to explain menopause-related anxiety! Gabapentin helps me handle severe hot flashes, and when heavy periods seemed to be trying to drain me of all blood, the IUD my doctor recommended made a huge difference. Interestingly, she didn’t also present me with a menu of things NOT to try.
Menopause isn’t a linear experience–it’s more of a roller coaster that requires us to re-evaluate at every turn.
Being educated about the options is important, but not easy. We need advice we can trust, and sometimes it’s hard to know who to listen to. I propose that we start by listening to each other, sharing information (and by this, I mean listening to each other not for magic hacks but for something vulnerable and real), outgrowing our natural inclination for silence, and making room for our different experiences of menopause.
At the same time, let’s agree that the holy grail of menopause “solution” does not exist! We’re expected to tirelessly seek out–and throw money at–anti-aging “hacks” and “miracles,” but I have yet to meet a woman who’s found this experience helpful, or hopeful. At the same time, we don’t need a menopause Society to narrow our options for us, do we?
So, my recommendation is not to give these guidelines any more attention than they deserve. The truth is, nobody knows your body better than you do, and I know plenty of women whose symptoms have been eased–as opposed to magically vaporized!--by non-hormonal and non-medical therapies. As well as prescription drugs. But let's not forget the power of a good laugh, a deep breath, a sweaty workout, the calmness of a meditation session, or a relaxing massage. Let’s also remember there’s more to menopause than symptoms! Try different therapies–and outlooks–and see what works for you. Who knows, maybe we'll stumble upon a magical solution, Or maybe we won't. But something tells me we’ll have fun trying.
I’d love to hear your opinion on guidelines or maybe you want to any menopause treatment wins. Email me at [email protected]