Use of complementary and alternative medicines for menopausal symptoms in Australian women aged 40–65 years
For many of the 3.7 million women aged 40 to 65 years in Australia, who account for 14% of the population, menopause presents a health challenge. Use of oestrogen for the relief of menopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS) (eg, hot flushes, night sweats) was common until 2002, when concerns about the safety of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) arising from a Women’s Health Initiative study1 triggered a dramatic decline in the prescription of MHT. Concurrently, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has grown considerably,2 with one Australian study reporting that most women presenting to a menopause clinic had used CAMs for their menopausal symptoms.3 However, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of CAMs that are most visibly promoted for managing VMS, such as black cohosh and phytoestrogens.4,5 Women at midlife are also likely to be taking other CAMs to manage other menopausal symptoms.
The current prevalence of the use of CAMs specifically for menopausal symptoms in Australia is not known. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of CAM use and consultations with CAM practitioners for menopausal symptoms by Australian women at midlife.