Guest Author - A. Maria Hester, M.D.
According to a recent scientific study in the March/April 2007 issue of Menopause, a drug called Citalopram was effective in reducing vasomotor symptoms. Vasomotor symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and fatigue. The study population consisted of postmenopausal women who opted not to use hormone therapy for their symptoms. In this group of women, citalopram was a good alternative treatment to reduce symptoms of menopause.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of citalopram and to assess the effect of combining it with hormone therapy in women who had an inadequate response to hormone therapy alone. While it has been documented that the most effective treatment for relieving hot flashes is hormone therapy, the results of the famous WHI study has led many women away from hormone therapy, as for good reason. Women who participated in the estrogen and progestin arm of the WHI study were found to have a higher risk for breast cancer and blood clots.
Since this landmark study, numerous scientific studies have been undertaken to determine what safe alternatives exist for the very troublesome vasomotor symptoms many postmenopausal women experience. Citaloprom is one of the drugs known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Many people are familiar with this class of drugs because they are extremely popular antidepressants. However, as with many drugs, SSRIs have been found to have additional benefit. One such benefit is in treating hot flashes. This does not mean that all women who suffer with vasomotor symptoms also have depression.
Consider the case of aspirin. While it has been used for decades as a pain reliever, it has more recently been proven to help save the lives with heart disease. It is also widely used as a stroke preventive. Such is the case with SSRIs, and many other drugs as well. As time goes by it becomes apparent that there are other potential benefits of drugs which may have been marketing for one specific reason.
According to the researchers in the citalopram study, SSRIs have been documented to reduce hot flashes by up to 60% and citalopram seems to be particularly well tolerated in elderly women since it have a low risk of cardiovascular and other side effects.
Menopause is a particularly difficult time for millions of women. In addition to the emotional challenges they face as a result of hormonal changes, many often experience life changing physical symptoms that can be utterly debilitating. While no medication is always safe in every individual who takes it, it is reassuring to know that women have choices and can make an informed decision about their treatment based on the risks and benefits they, and their doctors, perceive.
FREE health-promoting e-cards available at Patient School (http://patientschool.net). Send someone you care about an important health reminder.