Alternatives to HRT

hrt alternatives

by Lorna White |

Whether you're keen to clue yourself up on the alternatives to HRT, or have been affected by the shortages of it and want to know what other options you have, you might be interested to know there are alternatives when going through the menopause.

To help get you clued up, we caught up with Dr Sameer Sanghvi of Online Doctor, who has shared five alternative treatment options you may like to consider and discuss with your doctor if you're experiencing menopausal symptoms.

Remember, you should always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your healthcare routines.

What is HRT?

Before we start, it's probably a good idea to explain what HRT actually is, in case you've never heard the name before. HRT refers to Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and it is one of many menopause treatment options.

As women approach menopause and hormone levels decrease, many experience symptoms like hot flushes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and reduced sex drive. HRT can be used to relieve these symptoms, and may even prevent some debilitating diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and bowel cancer.

Why is there a shortage of HRT?

The shortage is down to a mixture of complications including the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, and manufacturing and supply chain issues.

HRT comes in many forms including tablets, pessaries, implants and more. According to doctors and pharmacists, women who use gels and patches could have the most trouble getting hold of their prescriptions.

Alternative menopause treatments to HRT

Tibolone

Tibolone produces similar effects to combined HRT, mimicking the effects of female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Taken in the form of a single tablet, tibolone is best for women experiencing hot flushes and low moods. One limitation is that this medication is only suitable for women whose periods stopped more than a year ago. It’s also worth noting that there is a small risk of breast cancer and strokes associated with this drug.

Clonidine

Clonidine is most commonly prescribed for women struggling with hot flushes and low moods. Again, it comes in tablet form but, unlike tibolone, clonidine doesn’t affect your hormones and therefore doesn’t pose an increased risk of cancer or blood clots. In terms of drawbacks, studies have shown clonidine has limited results. Plus, it can cause unwanted side effects like drowsiness and a dry mouth.

Vaginal moisturisers and lubricants

For many women, vaginal dryness can be an issue after menopause. If this is the case, vaginal moisturisers and lubricants which are applied topically can make everyday life, as well as sex, more comfortable. You can browse some of the best lubricants for menopausal dryness in our article here.

Related: Natural remedies for menopause

Natural remedies

Lifestyle changes

Maintaining a healthy mind and body with exercise and healthy eating is hugely important during and after menopause to look after your mental health, prevent weight gain, and promote good sleep. You might also find choosing looser clothing and investing in cooler bedlinen or a fan can keep hot flushes and night sweats at bay. Many women also find spicy food and caffeine can trigger hot flushes. Staying away from these is also worth a try.

Herbal remedies

The problem with herbal remedies is that they can be difficult to take in the right doses. Plus, a lot of the claims surrounding them are unverified. You should always talk to a doctor before adding a herbal remedy into your healthcare routine as they can cause side effects and may react negatively to other treatments.

You can find some menopause supplements along with some expert medical advice here.

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