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Hereditary Cancer Info > Menopause > Symptoms and Long Term Effects of Menopause

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Symptoms and Long Term Effects of Menopause

Women facing hereditary cancer have special considerations associated with early onset menopause and symptom management.

Hot flashes

Hot flashes (some women refer to these as “flushes”) are the most common symptom experienced by menopausal women. During a hot flash a woman typically experiences mild to extreme heat throughout the body, which may also be accompanied by sweating, flushing, and a rapid heartbeat. Hot flashes may begin soon after menopause and last for months or even years. 

Studies show that hormone replacement is the most effective treatment for hot flashes. Certain non-hormonal medications—antidepressants belonging to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), for instance—may relieve hot flashes and certain other menopausal side effects. Brisdelle—an oral medication that contains the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine)—has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treating hot flashes. 

Research on the effectiveness and safety of supplements, such as soy or black cohosh, found that these over-the-counter supplements are no more effective than placebo (“sugar pill’).  Because the FDA does not regulate supplements, it cannot guarantee their safety.

It's important to check with your health care team before taking supplements to treat hot flashes. 

Products such as handheld fans and "chillows" that reduce body temperature have been helpful for some women who experience hot flashes. Hypnosis also decreases hot flashes in some women. Others have also reported that exercise, yoga, or acupuncture relieves their hot flashes. 

Updated 12/23/2016

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