Not Your Mother's Menopause

Two experts talk about menopause symptoms — and what you can do about them now.

By Cary Barbor
Hilda Hutcherson, MD (Photo: Domenica Comfort)

MOORE: These people wouldn’t be in business if women weren’t buying their products. And I’d like to think that consumers are benefiting from them. I’m all in favor of capitalism. Having said that, wicking pajamas use the same technology as high-performance athletic training wear. So it’s not as if somebody invented a new material just for menopausal women; they just put a cute name on it. I’m personally in favor of sleeping in the nude, which has the same benefit and is far less expensive.

MORE: And your husband probably appreciates it. What about herbal treatments for symptoms?

MOORE: I put things like wicking pajamas in a whole different category from herbs.

HUTCHERSON: I wouldn’t suggest women just go out and buy herbs without speaking to their doctor, because herbs are medicine.

MOORE: If something is strong enough to have an effect, it’s strong enough to have a side effect. And when you buy herbal preparations, you may be buying several different products mixed together. So with many herbal products, you may be double — or triple — dosing.

Estroven, for example, which is one of the most commonly sold herbal products for menopause, is not one ingredient. Its main ingredient is black cohosh, and while either product may work for many women, I’m concerned about people who are taking both Estroven and black cohosh. You’re getting a double dose. If an alternative treatment works for you, most doctors are going to say that’s great. I don’t fix things that aren’t broken. Starting with an herbal preparation for hot flashes, especially for women who have mild to moderate hot fl ashes, is a reasonable approach.

HUTCHERSON: With direction from a professional…

MOORE: Exactly. Talk with your doctor, and it needs to be in your medical record. But I never argue with somebody who tells me that something works for her. Can I prove whether it’s a biological effect or a placebo effect? No. Do I care? No.

Originally published in MORE magazine, March 2008.

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