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Women prefer the natural approach to menopause

23 February, 2012

Natural Health News — Menopausal women prefer non-medical treatment for their symptoms and want more support from their GPs – and their partners.

This is the conclusion of a new study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The study looked at 4407 women aged 45 to 54 living in north east Scotland. The women were asked to complete a questionnaire about their menopausal symptoms and how they managed them.

The questionnaire included a symptom checklist which asked about problems such as stiff joints, aches and pains, headaches, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, depression, anxiety, mood swings, decreased sexual interest and menstrual symptoms.

Participants were asked whether they had experienced the symptom in the last month and how bothered they were by this.

The study found that nearly half of the women (46.7%) experienced hot flushes, 46.4% night sweats and 28.2% vaginal dryness. Approximately two-fifths of women reported these symptoms as quite a bit or extremely bothersome.

Surgically menopausal women (participants who have had a hysterectomy and/or oopherectomy) reported the most bother from menopausal symptoms and the greatest frequency of bothersome symptoms.

The study also looked at the different management strategies women adopt, from HRT to alternative therapies and social support. It found that the most common management strategy used by menopausal women was social support through talking to friends or family. This was reported by more than 60% of women.

Only 8% of women experiencing a physiological ( as opposed to surgical) menopause were using HRT. Instead more women reported taking vitamins, minerals and supplements and herbal remedies rather than HRT. Around 38% of women, for example, had used herbal remedies.

In addition, one third of women thought that their GP was very supportive, however 34% wanted to have more support from them. One fifth of women wanted more support from their spouse or partner.

Dr Lisa Iversen, Academic Primary Care, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen and co-author of the paper said:

“Our results provide a powerful reminder that the menopause is a time of life when women experience numerous symptoms, many of which are bothersome.

“We found that many women used non-medical approaches to help relieve the symptoms suggesting a large need for effective non-hormonal management options for menopausal women.”