Non-hormone prescription therapies have been used to treat symptoms with some success. Often they are used “off-label” which means prescribing a drug for a condition for which it has not officially received FDA approval. Listed below are several drug categories that are currently being studied and used off-label to treat menopause symptoms. Researchers continue to study these drugs and if additional studies prove that these drugs are effective for menopause symptoms, their manufacturer will likely reapply to the FDA to get the drug officially approved for menopause symptoms.
- Antidepressants—prescription antidepressant medication may be able to help with the menopausal symptoms of mood swings, hot flashes, depression and irritability. Some of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) recommended include venlafaxine, paroxetine, escitalopram and fluoxetine. One drug, Brisdelle, a low dose paroxetine tablet to reduce hot flashes has recently (2013) been approved by the FDA to treat hot flashes.
- Gabapentin—An anticonvulsant drug used to control seizures. Gabapentin may also lower the number of hot flashes each day and the intensity of the hot flashes, although how it works is not fully understood.
- Clonidine—a blood pressure medication available in pill or patch form that reduces the pressure of blood flow through the artery. Clonidine may relieve or reduce hot flashes for some women.
Other non-hormonal or combination hormone/non-hormonal drugs approved for menopausal symptoms include:
- Duavee, a mixture of estrogens and bazedoxifene (an estrogen agonist/antagonist that works similar to progestin received FDA approval in Fall, 2013, for hot flashes and to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis and is approved for use in women with a uterus. Ongoing studies have shown substantial reduction in hot flashed, night sweats and vasomotor symptoms and increased bone mineral density. The studies also report no increase in breast density or endormetrial changes.
- Ospemifene to treat dyspareunia (painful sex).