Medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull, M.D. on July 25, 2023
Evidence-based research and interactions with physicians mediate the beliefs, use, and perceptions of educated, White, and affluent peri- and postmenopausal women regarding complementary and integrative therapies in treating menopausal symptoms.
Menopausal symptoms, including vasomotor and non-vasomotor symptoms, significantly affect the quality of life of peri- and post-menopausal women. While there is a decreased preference for the utilization of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), there is an increase in the overall use of complementary and integrative therapies (CIT). The study, published in the journal Women’s Health Reports, aimed to assess the perceived benefits, use, and perceptions related to CIT in the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Baseline Characteristics of the Study Population
The survey included 474 peri- and post-menopausal women with mean stress levels of 4.9 ± 2.0 (on a scale of 1 to 10), a mean age of 55 ± 7 years, a mean weight of 170 ± 40 lbs, a mean body mass index (BMI) of 28.7 ± 7.3 kg/m2, and a mean height of 64.8 ± 3.7 inches.
Menopause-Specific Quality of Life and Menopause Symptoms
The average menopause-specific quality of life (MENQOL) scores in the sexual, vasomotor symptom, psychosocial, and physical domains were 2.44, 3.37, 3.76, and 3.86, respectively. Based on the choice of treatment modality, 40.5% chose consultation with a healthcare practitioner, 15.6% opted for support from other women, 32.9% chose added dietary changes or exercise, 13.5% opted for herbal or over-the-counter supplements, and 30.4% did nothing. Women experiencing sexual symptoms were more likely to select movement therapies and MHT.
Perceived Benefits of Complementary and Integrative Therapies
Approximately 59% of the women reported the use of different CIT, with the most common being diet, exercise, spiritual practices, and mind-body therapies. According to the participants, energy therapies were moderately to very effective in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. The findings also showed that the education level of the participants had the strongest predictive value for the selection of treatment for menopausal symptoms.
Evidence Types and Complementary and Integrative Therapies
The selection of treatment for menopausal symptoms was substantially based on the individuals’ successful use and doctors’ recommendations. Research studies and research evidence from large academic institutions and physicians were also important to the decision-making process.
Vanden Noven, M. L., Larson, M., Lee, E., Reilly, C., Tracy, M. F., & Keller-Ross, M. L. (2023). Perceptions, benefits, and use of complementary and integrative therapies to treat menopausal symptoms: a pilot study. Women’s Health Reports, 4(1), 136–147. https://doi.org/10.1089/whr.2022.0105