Botanicals for Meno-ACOG Guidelines

Summary of ACOG Guidelines

Soy May be effective at relieving menopausal symptoms for two years or less. Safe in dietary amounts. Large amounts may be harmful for women who have or have had breast cancer or other women.

Black Cohosh May be effective at relieving menopausal symptoms for six months or less.

Wild and Mexican Yam Not expected to be effective at relieving menopausal symptoms.

Dong Quai Not expected to be effective at relieving menopausal symptoms. Potentially toxic. May increase risk for skin cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most commonly prescribed method of treating menopausal symptoms. HRT is synthetic estrogen and progesterone (called progestin) designed to "replace" a womans depleting hormone levels. Research has also shown that HRT may also help prevent osteoporosis (weakening bones), heart disease, short-term memory loss, depression and other diseases in post-menopausal women.

While HRT can provide many benefits, there is also conflicting evidence that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, especially when taken longer than five years. Other negative effects of HRT that deter some women from using the treatment include bloating and vaginal bleeding. Taking estrogen alone can increase the risk of endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining) in women who have not had their uteruses removed. However, using combination HRT (estrogen plus progestin) counteracts this risk.

Because each womans medical situation is different, all women should talk to their physicians about how best to treat menopausal symptoms, if treatment is necessary. New research shows that special low-dose formulas of HRT may be as effective as regular formulas but with fewer side effects (such as bloating). However, the increased risk of breast cancer may still be associated with long-term use of low-dose HRT.

Additional Resources and References The May 31, 2001 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) news release, "Its Buyer Beware with Alternative Botanical Treatments for Menopausal Symptoms, Says ACOG," is available at http://www.acog.org. Contact the ACOG for more information on the new guidelines entitled "Use of Botanicals for Management of Menopausal Symptoms.

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