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From the FDA Office of Women's Health

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 3 Tips for Managing Menopause

Get help

Many women suffer in silence because they are ashamed about their symptoms. Speak with your health care provider about how you are feeling. Find out if there are treatments that can help.

Ask questions

Check the information you get online or from your friends. Speak with your health care provider about the treatment that is right for you. Ask about the risks and benefits of hormones, including “bioidenticals.” Also ask about the herbs or supplements you take. 

Avoid scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be aware that natural doesn’t always mean safe. Also, remember that each woman is different. A product that worked for your friend may not be right for you.

Menopause & Hormones: Common Questions (PDF, 2 MB) en Español

On this page:

What is menopause?

Menopause is a normal, natural change in a woman’s life when her period stops. That’s why some people call menopause “the change of life” or “the change.” Your period may start to change as your body moves into menopause. You may have irregular or heavier periods. Speak with your health care provider about any changes in your periods or bleeding.

During menopause, a woman’s body slowly produces less of the hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This often happens between ages 45 and 55. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row.

Speak with your health care provider about when it is safe for you to stop using birth control. Do not stop taking your birth control even if you have a positive result from a menopause home test kit. It may still be possible for you to get pregnant.

What are the symptoms of menopause?

Every woman’s period will stop at menopause. Some women may not have any other symptoms at all. As you near menopause, you may have:

  • Changes in your period—time between periods or flow may be different.

  • Hot flashes (“hot flushes”)—getting warm in the face, neck, or chest, with and without sweating.

  • Night sweats that may lead to problems sleeping and feeling tired, stressed, or tense.

  • Vaginal changes—the vagina may become dry and thin, and sex may be painful.

  • Thinning of your bones, which may lead to loss of height and bone breaks (osteoporosis).

Speak with your health care provider to discuss whether treatment is right for you if your menopause symptoms are interfering with your usual activities or get worse. 

Treatments for menopausal symptoms include hormone therapy and non-hormonal therapy. In addition, hormone therapy can be used to prevent bone loss in some situations.

Hormone therapy

What is hormone therapy for menopause?

Lower hormone levels in menopause may lead to hot flashes, vaginal dryness. To help with these problems, some women choose to treat their symptoms with hormone medicines, sometimes called menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). Women may be prescribed estrogen or estrogen with progestin (another hormone).

Menopause hormone therapy is not for everyone. Like all medicines, hormone therapy has benefits and risks. Talk with your health care provider about hormone therapy. If you decide to use hormone therapy, use it at the lowest dose that helps. Also use hormones for the shortest time that you need them.

Who should not take hormone therapy for menopause?

Women who:

  • Think they are pregnant.
  • Have problems with vaginal bleeding.
  • Have certain kinds of cancers.
  • Have had a stroke or heart attack.
  • Have had blood clots.
  • Have liver disease.

What are the benefits of using hormone therapy for menopause?

  • Hormone therapy may help relieve hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, or dyspareunia (pain with sexual activity).
  • Hormones may reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis—thin, weak bones that break easily.

What are the risks of using hormone therapy?

For some women, hormone therapy may increase their chances of getting blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gall bladder disease. For a woman with a uterus, estrogen increases the chance of getting endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterine lining). Adding progestin lowers this risk.

How long should I use hormone therapy for menopause symptoms?

Treatment of menopausal symptoms should be decided with your health care provider, as there are many different FDA-approved hormones for treatment of the symptoms of menopause.

Does it make a difference what form of hormones I use for menopause?

Yes. FDA recommends that women use hormone therapies that are FDA-approved. FDA-approved hormone therapies are evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Are compounded “bioidentical hormones” safer or more effective than FDA-approved hormone therapy for menopause?

Many marketed products that are called “bioidentical hormones” are compounded drugs, which are not FDA-approved. FDA does not have evidence that compounded “bioidentical hormones” are safe and effective, or safer or more effective than FDA-approved hormone therapy.

FDA has approved drugs containing hormones that are identical to the hormones made naturally by women in their reproductive years.

Is the hormone estriol a “safer form of estrogen”?

FDA does not have evidence that drugs containing estriol are safe and effective, or are “safer forms of estrogen.” There are no FDA-approved drugs containing estriol. Marketed drugs that contain estriol are compounded drugs, which are not FDA-approved.

Non-hormone treatments

Some women use non-hormonal medicines for their menopause symptoms. FDA has approved:

  • A medicine (PDF, 654 KB) used to reduce moderate to severe hot flashes associated with menopause. 
  • A medicine used to reduce moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms due to menopause. Vasomotor symptoms are the feelings of warmth in the face, neck, and chest, or sudden intense feelings of heat and sweating (“hot flashes” or “hot flushes”).
  • A medicine (PDF, 386 KB) used to treat and prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis, and reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in post-menopausal women, including postmenopausal women at high risk for invasive breast cancer.
  • A medicine (PDF, 568 KB) used after menopause for women with or without a uterus to treat moderate to severe pain during sexual intercourse due to changes in and around the vagina.

Are herbs and other "natural" products useful in treatment symptoms of menopause?

Some women may decide to use products marketed as dietary supplements or over-the-counter “natural” hormone creams to help them deal with their menopausal symptoms.  At this time, FDA does not know if herbs or other “natural” products are helpful or safe. These products may also have health risks. Don’t get scammed by products making false claims about miracle cures for weight gain, hair loss, wrinkles, or other changes that can happen during or after menopause. Get the facts.

  • Check with your health care provider for information about using these products.
  • Learn more about dietary supplements.

Should I use estrogen just to prevent thin bones?

Estrogen with or without progestogen (also known as progestin) is approved for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. There are also other medicines and things you can do to help your bones. Speak with your health care provider.

Should I use hormone therapy to protect the heart or prevent strokes?

No, do not use hormone therapy to prevent heart attacks or strokes.

Should I use hormone therapy to prevent memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease?

No, do not use hormone therapy to prevent memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease.

Do hormones protect against aging and wrinkles or increase my sex drive?

Studies have not shown that hormone therapy prevents aging and wrinkles or increases sex drive.

Living with menopause

Women often spend many years of their lives in the postmenopausal period.

  • Work with your health care provider to develop a plan to build and maintain a healthy life during and after menopause.
  • Be sure to learn about how to protect your heart and prevent bone loss as you get older.
  • Always tell your health care provider if you have any vaginal bleeding after menopause. This may be a sign of an urgent medical problem.   

Download menopause fact sheet in other languages

Order the menopause fact sheet in English and Spanish in bulk.

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