Over-the-Counter Hormone Replacement for Menopause

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Many women seek relief from symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, irritability, anxiety and sleeplessness. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), prescription hormone replacement therapy can lead to unpleasant side effects, such as bloating, bleeding, headaches, nausea and breast tenderness.

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Woman in mirror (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Benefits

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, some over-the-counter (OTC) products—such as estrogen cream, soy products and some herbal supplements—can effectively treat menopausal symptoms with potentially fewer side effects than prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Woman at pharmacy
Woman at pharmacy (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Phytoestrogenic Herbs

Phytoestrogenic herbs contain plant-based estrogen, an OTC treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, reports the 34 Menopause Symptoms website. Phytoestrogens occur naturally in foods such as soybeans, tofu and flaxseed.

Chinese herbs
Chinese herbs (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Non-Estrogenic Herbs

Non-estrogenic herbs stimulate the body’s ability to produce estrogen rather than replacing it. According to FemHealth.net, one such herb, Macafem, relieves irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.

Various herbs
Various herbs (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Other Products

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, herbalists sometimes recommend other OTC hormone replacement products, such as black cohosh and dong quai, but research fails to show positive results.

Various herbs
Various herbs (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Considerations

Many alternative treatments lack clinical data, and aren’t proven safe or effective. Talk to your doctor about alternative remedies, as mixing some supplements and prescription medication can be dangerous.

Woman talking with doctor
Woman talking with doctor (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

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