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Alternative medicine and the menopause



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Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):94-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.12.004. Epub 2013 Dec 11.  The use of complementary and alternative medicine by women transitioning through menopause in Germany: results of a survey of women aged 45-60 years.  Buhling KJ1, Daniels BV2, Studnitz FS2, Eulenburg C3, Mueck AO4.

OBJECTIVES: To describe prevalence rates of complementary and alternative medicine therapies (CAM) for the relief of menopausal complaints among German women. Furthermore, to investigate the perceived effectiveness of these therapies.

DESIGN: A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 9785 randomly selected women in Germany aged between 45 and 60 years.

RESULTS: A total of 1893 (19.3%) questionnaires have been sent back. The mean age of all participants was 52.6±4.3 years. 81% (n=1517) of the responding women stated that they had experienced menopausal complaints at least once. Symptoms ranged from vasomotor symptoms, including hot flushes and night sweats, in 71.2% of cases, to bladder problems in 42.7%. The average symptom score (MRS II total score, range 1-44) among the respondents was 12.76±9.6. More than half (56%; n=1049/1872) of the responding women had used some form of therapy to alleviate their symptoms at least once. The majority of women undertaking a therapy (64.8%; n=679/1049) had used only CAM interventions (either one or more type of CAM), 14.2% (n=149) had used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) only, while 21.1% (n=221/1049) had tried both CAM and HRT. Popular CAM interventions by the respondents were

  • an alteration of lifestyle (28.7%),
  • St. John's wort (18.3%) and
  • homoeopathy (14.9%).

An alteration in lifestyle was rated as the most effective CAM treatment with 84.9% (n=457). Other treatments like

  • hormone yoga (79.2%; n=42),
  • homoeopathy (73.7%; n=205) and
  • TCM (59.1%; n=94)

were also perceived to be effective. Phytoestrogens were rated as the most ineffective (45.5%; n=50).

CONCLUSION: CAM interventions to alleviate menopausal complaints are popular among German women, with 48.2% (n=900/1872) of respondents reporting having used CAM either alone or in combination with HRT. However, the users rated the effects of CAM differently, with some reporting CAM to be highly effective, while others indicate lower effectiveness. Nevertheless, women with a significantly higher symptom scoring tend to use both CAM and a conventional therapy (HRT).


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