Vasomotor Symptoms During Menopause
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Vasomotor Symptoms During Menopause

For a detailed and analytical exploration of the research on vasomotor symptoms (VMS) during menopause, let's delve deeper into the nuances of the topic based on the review article by Saira J. Khan and colleagues, focusing on the physiological basis, current treatment landscapes, and emerging therapeutic possibilities.

The Physiology of Vasomotor Symptoms

Vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, are among the most common manifestations of the menopause transition, affecting approximately 80% of midlife women. These symptoms result from the declining levels of estrogen, which disrupt the hypothalamic thermoregulatory set point. The hypothalamus, sensitive to slight changes in body temperature, becomes more reactive, often triggering excessive heat-dissipation responses such as sweating and flushing.

Current Treatment Paradigms

Hormonal Therapy (HT)

Efficacy: Hormonal treatments, particularly estrogen therapy, are the gold standard for reducing the frequency and severity of VMS. Estrogen therapy works by stabilizing the hypothalamic thermoregulatory center and thus reducing the frequency of the thermoregulatory responses.

Safety and Considerations: While effective, HT is not suitable for all women. It is associated with increased risks of venous thromboembolism, stroke, and certain types of cancer, particularly when initiated in women over 60 years old or more than 10 years post-menopause. Therefore, it is recommended for use under the "window of opportunity" hypothesis, which posits that HT has a more favorable benefit-risk profile when started soon after menopause onset.

Non-Hormonal Options

For women who are unable or choose not to use HT, several non-hormonal therapies have been explored:

  • SSRIs/SNRIs: These are effective for many women and can significantly reduce the severity of hot flashes.
  • Gabapentinoids: These are particularly useful in women who also suffer from migraines or neuropathic pain.
  • Lifestyle Interventions: While generally supportive in nature, modifications such as diet changes, exercise, and cooling techniques provide variable relief.

Emerging Therapies

The landscape of menopausal treatment is evolving with the introduction of targeted therapies that address the specific neurochemical pathways involved in VMS:

  • Neurokinin B Antagonists: These drugs target specific receptors in the brain that regulate thermoregulatory responses, offering a new avenue for relief with potentially fewer hormonal side effects.
  • Selective Neurokinin Receptor Antagonists: These are promising due to their specificity and reduced systemic effects compared to broader-acting hormone therapies.

Personalized Approach in Treatment

The review emphasizes the importance of a personalized approach to managing menopause symptoms. Decisions about initiating HT should consider individual factors such as age, time since menopause, existing health conditions, and personal risk factors for diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers. For non-hormonal therapies, considerations include individual symptom profiles, potential side effects, and personal preferences.

Vasomotor Symptoms During Menopause: A Practical Guide on Current Treatments and Future Perspectives; Int J Womens Health, 2023
1.The Physiology of Vasomotor Symptoms
2.Current Treatment Paradigms
3.Emerging Therapies
4.Personalized Approach in Treatment