Women who enter menopause are susceptible to experiencing hot flashes. Typically, health care professionals advise women to undergo hormone therapy to help combat the irritating effects of hot flashes. However, many women do not wish to take medication for something that is considered a natural rite of passage. However, the symptoms are often problematic.
Depending on your medical history, you may not be able to receive hormone therapy, as this treatment option can put you at a higher risk of developing other medical problems. Fortunately, alternatives exist.
If you are unable to receive hormone therapy for your menopausal hot flashes, speak with your doctor about the prescribed medication known as Oxybutynin. It has been prescribed to women experiencing hot flashes due to menopause or breast cancer since the 1970s. Many women also find certain herbal combinations helpful in reducing episodes. More information about stopping menopausal hot flashes is covered below.
What are the benefits of Oxybutynin for women with menopause?
For women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer or have a history of developing blood clots, receiving hormone therapy as a menopausal treatment for hot flashes is inadvisable. To help combat the debilitating effects of a hot flash, your doctor may prescribe Oxybutynin to reduce both the frequency and the intensity of these episodes. Through a controlled study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, researchers have found that women who take Oxybutynin experience a much lower percentage of hot flashes than women who leave the condition untreated.
In addition to experiencing less frequent and intense hot flashes, women in the study noticed numerous benefits emerging over the repeated usage of Oxybutynin. Participants noticed an overall improvement to their quality of life, experienced more restful periods of sleep and more enjoyment during social activities. Additionally, these women indicated the prescription helped them sweat less during spells of hot flashes.
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As with any medication, there are potential side effects of Oxybutynin, although these may vary from one patient to the next. Some women may experience dry mouth or may notice the drug interfering with their intestinal functions. Because the medication is designed for short-term use, extended use of Oxybutynin may lead to more serious health complications, such as cognitive impairment. Menopausal women should consult with their primary care physician before starting this medication to ensure they are the right candidate for this type of treatment. A woman may be advised to stop taking other medications or natural supplements while taking Oxybutynin to help reduce the risk of harmful side-effects.
How does Oxybutynin work?
Oxybutynin is considered an anti-cholinergic medication, meaning it effectively helps to inhibit the neurotransmitters within your brain to control the frequency and severity of your hot flashes. When you are experiencing a hot flash, the blood vessels located near your skin begin to spasm, which causes a higher concentration of blood flow close to the surface of your skin. Once this takes place, your body temperature rises, and you begin to feel warm and start to sweat.
When you take Oxybutynin, the anti-cholinergic agent within the medication helps reduce the spasm occurring in your blood vessels and muscle cells, which can help control the duration of your hot flash. As the spasming is reduced, the symptoms accompanying your hot flash are also reduced. This can reduce both the heat you feel during the episode and the perspiration you accumulate before the hot flash has completed.
Studies show you cannot take Oxybutynin with other medications containing the anti-cholinergic agent, as this can create an adverse effect on the body. Women who experience narrow angle glaucoma are commonly advised against taking this medication for hot flashes, as it can increase their risk of developing eye related issues.
Is Oxybutynin effective for breast cancer survivors?
Women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer may be susceptible to experiencing hot flashes even if they have not yet reached menopausal age. When this occurs, women who have been treated for breast cancer are unable to seek hormone therapy to manage their hot flashes due to the presence of estrogen within these therapeutic treatments. An influx of estrogen can cause breast cancer survivors to become more prone to developing cancer again, as the added hormones can trigger estrogen receptor-positive tumors.
To avoid this issue, breast cancer survivors may receive a prescription for Oxybutynin to gain short-term relief from the negative effects of experiencing multiple hot flashes per day. Additionally, those suffering from any of the following conditions, must take Oxybutynin in lieu of hormone therapy treatment to reduce their risk of developing life-threatening conditions:
- Women with a history of thrombotic disease (known as a history of developing blood clots)
- Women with a history of cardiac disease
- Women with a history of liver disease
- Women who have had a stroke
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggest following a few simple rules when taking Oxybutynin, either as a menopausal woman or as a breast cancer survivor, to help reduce the risk of developing negative side-effects. Eating spicy foods, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can trigger the frequency of hot flashes. Therefore, it is important to reduce your interaction with this items or abandon them altogether. Additionally, stress and caffeine can trigger your hot flashes.
Making a few minor lifestyle changes can help reduce the amount of hot flashes you experience. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and opt for well-balanced meals in lieu of less healthful options. Researchers recommend taking up a relaxing hobby, such as yoga or daily meditation, to help reduce the frequency of hot flashes associated with stress.
Herbal Remedies for Menopausal Hot Flashes
While Oxybutynin is the most common remedy for menopausal hot flashes, herbal remedies can also help reduce your symptoms. In particular, evening primrose oil and vitamin E can help reduce the number of hot flashes you experience per day. These herbal supplements do not require a prescription and can be purchased over-the-counter at most grocery stores. Keep in mind that herbal remedies do pose the risk of side-effects, some of which can prove to be serious with repeated usage.
Speak with your health care provider before taking these supplements to ensure the reward outweighs the potential risk. Most require you to consume multiple doses over several weeks before symptoms ease. Additionally, acupuncture treatments have proven to be beneficial for menopausal women experiencing hot flashes. While it may require multiple visits to reduce the number of hot flashes you experience, many report a noticeable difference upon receiving this treatment.
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