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Choosing alternative treatments for menopause will depend on which symptoms a patient is seeking to treat. If hot flashes are a problem, an alternative to hormone replacement therapy might be consuming products containing soy, or taking the herb known as black cohosh. Natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy can be effective, but may cause side effects, so patients should discuss their cases with a qualified health care provider before treatment begins.
Other alternative treatments for menopause include taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium may be effective in combating mood swings and insomnia, two very common manifestations of menopause. In addition, palpitations can also occur during menopause and since magnesium is often referred to as "nature's beta blocker," it can be beneficial in regulating and slowing the heart rate. Prior to taking magnesium supplements as alternative treatments for menopause, it should be discussed with the physician. Taking magnesium can produce side effects, such as diarrhea and excessive intestinal gas.
Women who have a personal or family history of breast cancer should discuss consuming soy products with their doctors because soy can mimic the effects of estrogen, which might promote the growth of cancerous tumors. Soy generally is considered safe, and women living in countries where heavy soy consumption is common have much lower breast cancer rates than women in countries where soy consumption is not as common. In addition, soy is considered to be one of the most popular alternative treatments for menopause.
Depression is also common during menopause and although antidepressant medications are effective in treating this condition, they are not appropriate for everyone. In addition, they can cause side effects such as extreme weight gain, anxiety, heart rhythm disturbances, and gastrointestinal upset. Alternative treatments for menopause-related depression may include fish oil and vitamin D supplements. Both of these supplements may improve mood and reduce anxiety, but again, their use should be discussed with a health care provider to make sure they are safe for use.
Although alternative treatments for menopause may seem to be safer than traditional treatments, they may not always be effective or even safe. Conventional hormone replacement therapy is still prescribed to those who experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence, and bone loss as a result of menopause. Although hormone replacement therapy can predispose a person to breast and uterine cancer, it is generally considered safe when used under the supervision of a physician who can monitor the patient with regular health screenings.