A literature review published in the online journal Maturitas has found that more and more women are embracing alternative medicine to treat their menopause symptoms but are not informing their doctors of this. The review gathered information from previous studies regarding menopause and complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, and addressed how doctors can relate to patients utilizing these alternative treatments. Researchers reviewed three types of complementary or alternative approaches—herbal and soy remedies, mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation, and traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine.
Associate professor at the University of Delaware, Melissa Melby, co-authored the study and explained that many menopausal women are turning to alternative medicines as they feel that the existing biomedical treatments are not effective, or that their symptoms are not severe enough to warrant aggressive pharmaceutical treatments. At the same time, doctors and biomedical practitioners are quick to dismiss the benefits of these alternative therapies as a placebo effect, making women less likely to disclose that they have been using CAM to help with the management of their symptoms. Melby and her co-author Dunia Tonob commented, “Biomedical practitioners who make an effort to learn about CAM and ask patients about their CAM use or interest may dramatically improve the patient-provider relationship and rapport. By working with women to integrate their CAM-related health-seeking behaviors and treatments, providers may also boost the efficacy of their own biomedical treatments.”
This review highlights the importance of open communication between doctors and their patients, as it allows for physicians to better treat their patients on a more personal level. This more individualized approach could result in better management of menopause symptoms through a combination of CAM and biomedical treatments.