There’s a vast array of drugstore products available that claim to treat menopause symptoms. Many patients want to know if these products truly provide relief. While there are certainly over-the-counter products that work for mild hot flashes, night sweats or other menopause symptoms, few will work on severe or persistent symptoms.
As a general rule, I suggest being wary of “miracle cures” when you go to select a product. Since these herbal and nutritional products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are seldom tested for efficacy or safety the way pharmaceuticals are. So there’s no way to know for certain that they contain the amount of active ingredients that they claim to have or if the benefit claims on the packaging are valid.
When exploring over-the-counter products, be an extremely savvy shopper. There’s no way to know whether the amount of active ingredients listed is incomplete or incorrect. The packaging could also tout benefits that are exaggerated since there’s no testing required by the FDA on these products. It’s very hard to know exactly what you’re buying, so if you want to explore over-the-counter products, be an extremely savvy shopper.
Overall, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any unregulated over-the-counter product. Most importantly, discuss the following:
- Does this herb or dietary supplement have possible side effects?
- Will this product interact with any of my other medications or affect an unrelated medical condition?
- What scientific evidence is there about how effective this remedy might be for my particular menopausal symptoms?
- What are the risks of over-the-counter menopause treatments?
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating menopause symptoms. What works for one woman may not for another. Talk to your doctor or ask your pharmacist to help you choose a product for easing mild menopausal symptoms that’s right for you.