About 80 percent of women who go through menopause experience symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats but very few of us feel comfortable enough to talk about it freely, notes Ann Robinson. And despite a growing industry, currently worth about $4 billion, including books and products, reliable information is still hard to come by.
“If men got hot flushes, they’d be screaming for HRT,” says Dr. Mark Vanderpump, an endocrinologist who specializes in hormone treatment.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically touted as the best treatment for hot flushes and sweats but other options include non-hormonal drugs and/or lifestyle changes such as avoiding spicy foods, alcohol and hot places.
A government review examined 104 studies and found that the years around the menopause can have a big, usually negative, impact on women’s working lives, Robinson notes.
But not all women are inclined to take drugs or hormones, especially given the risk of cancer from HRT. Others don’t know enough about which supplements may actually help.
“Products claiming to ‘fix’ the menopause are now a multibillion-dollar global industry,” says Robinson. The Guardian asked the experts to explain which ones work and which ones don’t.