A ‘new’ treatment option for hot flushes

About a fifth of menopausal women experience severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS) such as hot flushes and night sweats. These symptoms could cause significant emotional distress for many of these women. Yet, one would hardly contemplate estrogen therapy if one had a family history of breast cancer, high cholesterol levels, and were even a bit overweight.


Yes, this could be perplexing for such women, but not for much longer.  Not with the recent research findings at Vancouver General Hospital’s Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (ceMCOR), that progesterone is just as effective as estrogen in treating these symptoms, and what’s more, without the risks associated with estrogen use.


The study1, published in the journal Clinical Science on 10 January 2007, showed that women treated daily with either 0.6mg conjugated equine estrogen or 10mg medroxyprogesterone, a synthetic progesterone, for a year, had hot flushes or sweating just once in three or four days, compared with sometimes, up to a dozen times or more in an hour in untreated women.


Furthermore, medroxyprogeterone, does not cause breast cancer, or increase the chances of migraines or blood clots. Indeed, previous studies have shown its effectiveness in treating VMS, although none compared it directly to estrogen as this study did. Thanks to Dr Jerilynn Prior and her team in Vancouver, women who could not use estrogen, no longer have to endure incessant discomfort that, no doubt compromise their quality of life.   


To be sure, most women only have mild to moderate VMS and many do not require hormonal treatment or treatment with any medications for that matter. For them, losing weight, exercising regularly, and taking measures to reduce anxiety levels might just be all they would need to manage VMS. However, it is important for women who need hormonal treatment to know that estrogen is not the only choice that they have.




1. Prior, JC, Nielsen, JD, Hitchcock, CL, Williams, LA, Vigna YM, and C. B. Dean Medroxyprogesterone and conjugated estrogen are equivalent for hot flushes-a one-year randomized double blind trial following premenopausal ovariectomy

Clinical Science (2007) Immediate Publication, doi: 10.1042/CS20060228


Available at: http://www.clinsci.org/cs/imps/abs/CS20060228.htm?msid=CS20060228

Accessed on March 12, 2007.