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.
May be effective at relieving menopausal symptoms for six months or less.
Wild and Mexican Yam Not expected to be effective at relieving menopausal
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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