There are several different medications that were originally used in treatment of other conditions that have been found to help women deal with the symptoms of menopause. These nonhormonal medications do not have an impact on menstrual cycles or irregular bleeding, but they can be beneficial for other symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. They are options worth considering for women who cannot take hormone therapy, including women who have had breast cancer or endometrial cancer. They are listed below:
- Antidepressants—The antidepressants Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Effexor (venlafaxine) have been used successfully for treatment of vasomotor symptoms. They are also helpful in treating the anxiety and depression that can sometimes occur at this time of life. Like any other medication, they can have side effects, and these should be thoroughly discussed and understood before treatment is started. Once started, relief of vasomotor symptoms can occur in as little as a week, but relief of any depressive symptoms may take up to a couple of months. If treatment is discontinued, then tapering off the medication slowly rather than stopping it abruptly is recommended.
- Brisdelle—Brisdelle is a product containing a very low dose of paroxetine (Paxil) and is FDA-approved only for treatment of hot flashes and night sweats. At this low dose, it is not considered to be a treatment for depression.
- Gabapentin—Gabapentin is best known by its brand name, Neurontin. It is most often used in treatment of seizure disorders, but a randomized controlled clinical trial found that it is effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats for many women. Its most common side effect is weight gain. Like the antidepressants listed above, this medication should be tapered off slowly rather than discontinued abruptly.
- Clonidine—This medication is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and may be useful in women with mild vasomotor symptoms. It is less effective than the antidepressants listed above and is not commonly used to treat hot flashes and night sweats.