Some women find estrogen ineffective for hot flashes. Studies of women who have had their ovaries surgically removed due to illness or injury indicate that 50% of them do not respond to estrogen replacement alone. Normal estrogen levels fluctuate throughout a woman’s life. They change from week to week, month to month and year to year. They change because of pregnancy and they change because of menopause. During the years leading up to menopause, a woman’s normal estrogen levels may become gradually lower. In women who are menopausal because of surgery, there is a sudden drastic change in hormonal levels, which may be why they experience such severe symptoms.
About half of all women experience hot flashes during the menopausal transition. About 10% notice them in the years leading up to menopause and a little more than 50% have them in the years following menopause. It is assumed that hormonal changes cause hot flashes, but it is not an absolute. One of the most effective herbal remedies for hot flashes is black cohosh, but scientific evaluation does not indicate that this plant contains any estrogen-like components. Adding to the confusion is the fact that hot flashes respond to placebo. In clinical studies, women who receive a pill that looks exactly like everyone else’s pill, but actually contains no active components report a reduction in hot flash symptoms by as much as 20%.
For women who find estrogen ineffective for hot flashes, doctors have tried a variety of prescription medications. Trying to find something that works can be frustrating. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is believed, by some, to be more effective. This type of therapy is designed to recreate a woman’s normal estrogen levels, but also measures levels of other circulating hormones. The final product created by a compounding pharmacy is molecularly identical to a woman’s own hormones. There have been no long term studies concerning the effectiveness or safety of bio-identical hormones, but it is hoped that this therapy may be gentler to a woman’s system and may help when other treatments fail.
Numerous herbs and botanicals are claimed, by some to be effective for relieving hot flashes. There has been much research concerning these claims. If you have found estrogen ineffective for hot flashes or if you prefer to avoid hormone replacement therapy because of the health risks associated with it, please visit the Menopause and PMS guide to learn about alternative remedies.
Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a freelance writer. Currently she is writing a series of articles about women's health. Read more at http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com .