Menopausal women don't get enough guidance on treatment options, Stanford survey shows

STANFORD, Calif. - Few women are consulting their doctors before opting to use herbal therapies and soy products to treat their menopausal symptoms, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.

The trend is of particular note because growing numbers of women are turning to alternative therapies to relieve such symptoms as hot flashes, headaches, mood swings and sleep disruptions because of concerns about health risks associated with hormone therapy, which is still considered the most effective way of treating such difficulties. The researchers recommend that physicians learn more about these products so that they can help their patients choose safe, effective methods of treating their symptoms.

"We're not promoting the use of these alternative therapies," said lead author Jun Ma, MD, PhD, research associate at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "We're just saying that the demand for these therapies is growing and that physicians should be prepared to talk to their patients about it."

The study appears in the May/June issue of The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, which had no role in the study design, data collection or preparation of the manuscript for publication. The pharmaceutical company manufactures the herbal product RemiFemin Menopause.

The study was based on a 2004 online survey of a random sample of 781 U.S. women between the ages of 40 and 60. Because the sample size was small, Ma cautioned that the findings may not accurately represent all women, but said the data provide useful insights into women's attitudes toward menopause treatments and how much physician guidance they have received in deciding which therapies to use.

Among the women surveyed, nine out of 10 reported having experienced at least one menopausal symptom at some point. When it came to treating their symptoms, 37 percent reporte

Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
Stanford University Medical Center

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