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The Use of Oral Contraceptives for Hot Flashes

written by: Suzanne Florin • edited by: lrohner • updated: 12/18/2010

Hot flashes are caused by a variety of factors such as estrogen deprivation, severe infection, a side effect of medication, and other medical conditions. There are several types of treatment options, and this article highlights the use of oral contraceptives for hot flashes.

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    Most women going through perimenopause and postmenopause complain of experiencing hot flashes, the sensation of heat felt all over the body but more pronounced in the head and neck regions. Hot flashes are not only experienced by women in their menopause stage; in fact, not all menopausal women experience hot flashes. Severe infection, deprivation of estrogen and side effect from medication are linked to hot flashes.

    Treatment options for hot flashes are diverse; and this article surfaces on the use of oral contraceptives for hot flashes - their benefits, side effects, and risks.

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    Symptoms of Hot Flashes

    The medical history, analysis of the symptoms experienced, and a thorough physical examination may be done by a doctor in order to determine the causes of these hot flashes. The available and appropriate treatment options will then be recommended to alleviate such symptoms.

    Here are the most common symptoms of hot flashes:

    • A mild to intense feeling of warmth in the head and neck area, and scatters all over the body
    • Flushing, or redness of the skin
    • Profuse sweating, even if the room's temperature is not warm
    • Night sweats, when hot flashes are experienced during sleep

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    Oral Contraceptives for Hot Flashes

    Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) is one of the methods that can help alleviate symptoms that menopausal women experience. Based on the U.S FDA (Food and Drugs Administration), there are three kinds of medications that are prescribed in hormone therapy: 1) estrogen-only medicine; 2) progestin-only medicine; 3) combination estrogen and progestin medicine. These medications are prescribed by doctors after considering the medical conditions of the patient. It is recommended that the lowest dose that works for the patient is taken on a short period of time.

    As with most medications, each kind of hormone therapy also causes side effects which may be serious to some patients. Proper care and adherence to the doctor's instructions must be done in order to avoid intense discomfort due to the side effects.

    Those with the following medication conditions are not advised to take hormone therapy medicines:

    • Pregnant women
    • Have unusual bleeding, liver disease, blood clots
    • Have experienced heart attack or stroke in the past year
    • Have or had breast cancer or uterine cancer

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    Kinds of Hormone Medicines

    Cenestin Oral

    This is a type of estrogen-only medication that is prescribed to women who have deprivation of estrogen, thus resulting in symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, among other symptoms. Aside from treating those symptoms, this estrogen product is also used for people who have osteoporosis, as well as certain cancers (metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer).

    The most common side effects of Cenestin are dizziness, nausea, bloating, light-headedness, headache, and changes in weight. There are also unlikely effects of using this medication, such as mood changes, swelling of hands and feet, lumps in the breast, dark urine, and unusual vaginal bleeding. A doctor must be notified immediately if any of those symptoms were experienced after using the medication.

    Norethindrone-Oral

    This is a progestin-only medication that is given to women who are in their menopause period, or to those who have stopped having their period. With this medication, the normal growth of the uterus lining is stopped, thus sending signals to the body about the hormone changes.

    The side effects in taking this drug is similar to the ones experienced in taking Cenestin, except for unwanted hair growth or hair loss that are among the effects of Norethindrone.

    Climara Pro TD

    This combination estrogen and progestin medicine is prescribed to women who are in their menopause. The components of Climara Pro TD provide the body with the estrogen and progesterone hormone that help alleviate episodes of hot flashes. However, this combination medication is not recommended for women who had their uterus removed because progestin is no longer needed in such condition.

    Serious side effects such as breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding, fainting, shortness of breath are rarely experienced by people who take this medication. However, the most common side effects are the following: hair loss, weight gain, muscle cramps, abdominal pains, nausea.

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    Resources

    Menopause - Medicines to Help You, From

    http://www.fda.gov

    UCLA Department of Medicine - wfsection - Hot Flashes, From

    http://www.med.ucla.edu

    Menopause: Symptoms and Treatment, From

    http://www.medicinenet.com