The alternatives From yoga to ginseng
No alternative to HRT offers an instant cure. Therapies fall into three groups: non-drug options, pills for other conditions that can also reduce menopausal symptoms, and alternative therapies.
Yoga This exercise helps some women with their symptoms, particularly mood swings and also in coping with the surges of heat that cause the body to sweat and the skin to flush red.
Cognitive behavioural therapy Studies have shown CBT can help women cope with and reduce symptoms.
Exercise and weight loss Getting fit helps all medical conditions. Losing weight is good for bone health, which can be impaired by loss of oestrogen in the menopause.
Diet Caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods can all trigger sweating and flushes.
Other medicines: Clonidine The pill to treat high blood pressure, ADHD and anxiety can slightly reduce menopausal flushing. Antidepressants A low dose is said to help cut hot flushes. Gabapentin This epilepsy drug can help hot flushes but may cause tiredness.
Herbal medicines These may help. Nice says there is some evidence for black
cohosh and isoflavones, such as soy, derived from the bean family, but says the fact they come in various strengths means safety is uncertain. They can interact with other medicines. Evening primrose oil, angelica, ginseng and St John’s Wort All are said to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture A study last year found it cut the number of hot flushes for some women.