One of my last blog posts was about new drugs being developed to help relieve menopausal symptoms. Since then I've found even more drugs or treatments that are new or in the works. I am so excited about them, I wanted to share right away!
Some of these drugs are being researched by huge pharmaceutical companies, and while I'm no cheerleader for the big drug companies, just the fact that they are looking into this stuff indicates to me that they think there are some useful treatments out there.
Note that most of these are just in development: only one is on the market yet, and another is available by prescription but not for the treatment of menopause symptoms. But you may see some news about these fairly soon.
The biggest complaint from most of us is our hot flashes, so no surprise that researchers are trying to find a "cure." Fact is, there isn't really a cure, since menopause is a natural phase of life. Our body's decreasing levels of estrogen is a main factor in triggering those vile hot flashes.
But taking estrogen to combat the symptoms of menopause has had some serious side effects in many women, so scientists are trying to come up with the "good" while eliminating the "bad."
One of the newest ways to deliver estrogen that some scientists say is safer than the pill form is via a gel that can be applied to your upper arm or shoulder. New to the market is a low-dose, prescription-only gel used to treat moderate-to-severe hot flashes called Elestrin.
Elestrin is transdermal (through-the-skin) estradiol (a plant-based estrogen). In studies, it has been proven to significantly reduce the number and severity of hot flashes. It comes in a pump like some facial moisturizers and one pump delivers the smallest amount of the hormone, and of course two pumps delivers more. Patients should not use any more estrogen than is absolutely necessary to relieve symptoms. The drug, which is on the market already, carries a pretty severe warning and should not be used by women who:
- Have unusual vaginal bleeding
- Currently have or have had certain cancers, including cancer of the breast or uterus
- Had a stroke or heart attack in the last year
- Currently have or have had blood clots
- Currently have or have had liver problems
- Are allergic to it (duh!)
- Think they may be pregnant
Your doctor or nurse practitioner may have heard of this-ask her about it.
Another gel-form drug in development is LibiGel, which, if approved, may be used to treat low sexual desire in menopausal women. It's also a hormone, testosterone. Testosterone, of course, is a hormone we associate with men.
Both men and women have testosterone, and its potency decreases as we age. Researchers say its deficiency decreases libido or sex drive. In addition to increasing sexual desire and activity, some scientists says that testosterone therapy can increase bone density, raise energy levels and improve mood. These are not crackpot scientists, either. The goal of testosterone treatment is to get our testosterone level back up to what it was before menopause. Because it is absorbed by the skin, the gel enters the bloodstream over time.