I'm sorry the In Focus posts have reduced lately, I will be back on track in May and we'll be looking at diet, do let me know any topics you would like covered as part of this.
To end the topic of menopause, here is some information on non-hormonal medications, which our lovely volunteer Yesim, who is a pharmacist, has kindly written for us:
This is to let you know about medication that can be prescribed by your doctor for menopausal symptoms especially if you are unable to take Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT). These include:
Symptoms of menopause can be many or few, and may affect your every day life, including:
Decreased sex drive
Problems with memory
Problems with concentration
These symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Surgical menopause symptoms can be more severe than natural menopause. You may also find that even if you have gone through natural menopause, surgery for ovarian cancer can trigger further menopausal symptoms.
HRT is the most common treatment for most of these symptoms; however, there are many circumstances where you are unable to take HRT. This could be due to your personal preference or your medical history. HRT for ovarian cancer is a complex issue which you will need to discuss with your oncologist.
Here we would like to let you know about other options for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
There are some antidepressants which can be beneficial during menopause.
Citalopram and Paroxetine both belong to a group of medicines called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which are commonly used to improve depression. SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a substance which already exists in our body and helps keep our moods stable. Taking citalopram or Paroxetine may help with low mood and anxiety, and it is also sometimes prescribed for hot flushes.
Apart from the regular side effects listed on the patient information leaflets for SSRIs, a new study suggests that they may increase the risk of bone fracture by approximately 76% if taken during menopause for over 2 years. To read more about the study please check the link below:
There will be treatments available to help manage your risk of bone fracture.
You can read more information about SSRIs, citalopram and paroxetine on the NICE and NHS websites at following links:
Venlafaxine is another antidepressant, which belongs to a group of medicines called Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSNRIs), which work in a similar way to SSRIs. Venlafaxine like citalopram and paroxetine has an immediate relief on hot flushes and night sweats in menopausal women within 2 weeks of its use. However, like all medicines venlafaxine also has side effects, such as nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms.
You can read more about venlafaxine on the NICE and NHS websites using the following links:
Apart from SSRIs and SSNRIs there is also a medicine called Clonidine. Clonidine acts by reducing the heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels the blood flows easily through the body, this in return reduces blood pressure and also eases symptoms of hot flushes and excessive sweating. You may be recommended clonidine for its dual effects on the body. But like the SSRIs and SSNRIs it has side effects including, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal effects. However, most of these side effects are temporary and should resolve in a few weeks.
You can read more about clonidine on the NICE website using the following links:
If you decide to take any of the listed medication above and your symptoms do not improve after several weeks, you will need to let your doctor know.
Before starting any new medication, it is important to inform your doctor about any medication you are already taking including any over-the-counter and herbal remedies. Also let them know about medical conditions and allergies you have.
Menopause Matters is a website with lots of useful information at the following link: menopausematters.co.uk
We hope this information is helpful. Do get in touch if you have any queries.
Yesim & Anna