Do you have a question you’ve been dying to ask, but didn’t know who to turn to? Well, now you do. The National Women’s Health Network has established a weekly Q & A column where you can ask questions on a variety of topics. Those topics include contraception, abortion, sexual health, menopause & menopause hormone therapy, osteoporosis, obesity, and some aspects of heart disease. Each week we will feature a new question. Submit your question today.

The answer to your question might have already been answered, to view past questions click here.

What we are able to provide:

  • A feminist perspective on current issues in women’s health
  • Evidence-based research on the risks and benefits of certain drugs and procedures
  • Information on available treatment options

What we are not able to provide:

  • Give medical advice
  • Physician referrals
  • Financial assistance in paying for health care
  • Information on general health topics

Please note: Questions submitted will not be answered personally, and not all questions submitted will be answered. If your question is selected, you will be notified via email. Before you submit your question, search our website to see if you find the answer to your question. Your answer might be found in a fact sheet, newsletter article or on one of our advocacy pages. NWHN can provide you with accessible and accurate health information; however, we are not medically licensed professionals and thus cannot provide medical diagnostic or treatment advice.

 


Weekly Question – Do bioidentical hormones relieve night sweats & hot flashes? Are they safe for consumption? I really need your help!

 

There are various methods for managing menopausal symptoms. It’s important for women to have comprehensive information about the treatment options available so they can decide which one is best for them.

Bioidentical hormones, often marketed as “natural hormones,” have been sold as a safe way to manage menopausal symptoms. However, they are not scientifically proven to be more effective or any safer than traditional hormone therapy (HT). The American Cancer Society cautions that bioidentical hormones might have the same health risks as other types of menopause HT.  Although HT is the most effective way to treat hot flashes, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) discovered that women who use HT for extended periods of time have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, long-term use of combination HT increases the risk of breast cancer. Estriol, a weak form of estrogen, is a bioidentical hormone that is commonly recommended by “natural” hormone proponents. The FDA has not approved any products containing estriol and there’s no evidence that it is safe or effective. The National Women’s Health Network advises women to avoid using estriol products until adequate studies are conducted.

Estradiol, a potent form of estrogen, is a bioidentical hormone that has been proven effective in treating hot flashes in numerous studies. The FDA has approved various estradiol-containing products, including Alora, Climera, Divigel, Estrace, Estraderm, Estrogel, Evamist and Vivelle, as effective drugs to treat hot flashes. NWHN believes that if women choose to use menopause HT, they should choose one of the products approved by the FDA and should use the lowest effective dose for as short as possible to avoid the associated risks.

NWHN recommends trying other methods to manage hot flashes before using any form of hormonal therapies, including bioidentical hormones. Behavioral techniques such as staying cool and making dietary changes by limiting foods that trigger hot flashes are alternatives to HT. Stress management techniques, such as paced breathing and relaxation exercises, can also help reduce hot flashes. At least one study has shown that acupuncture can reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes as well. Your healthcare provider can help you weigh your options and choose the method that is best for you.