AFTER six years on a prescription estrogen patch that alleviated her hot flashes, but did nothing to address her midlife 25-pound weight gain, Martha B. started searching for a natural alternative to treat her menopausal symptoms.
“When I couldn’t button my size 12 jeans, I just told myself ‘Enough’s enough,’ ” said the 57-year-old teacher who lives in Atlanta and requested that her full name not be used.
She turned to an over-the-counter supplement called Estroven, with ingredients that include black cohosh and phytoestrogens — botanical compounds found in soy and other plants that have been shown to have estrogenlike effects in humans.
Without changing her eating habits, Martha said she lost 20 pounds. But after four months off the patch, the hot flashes came back. Now, she said, she is wondering, “What do I do next?”
According to experts, about 70 percent of women experience hot flashes, weight gain, loss of libido and other symptoms as they transition from their fertile to postfertile years and their hormone levels fluctuate sharply. It’s a process that lasts an average of seven years.