New guidelines recommend the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to alleviate menopause symptoms including hot flushes, problems sleeping and night sweats.
Guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that CBT has been found to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes and night sweats and should be considered alongside or an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
CBT can also reduce the sleep problems related to menopause, including how long it takes to fall asleep, the updated draft guidelines say.
It suggests that when discussing treatment options with people who have troublesome menopause symptoms, such as HRT, clinicians should make the risks and benefits clear.
The guidelines lay out the evidence for HRT’s effects on cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia risks, as well as cancers of the breast, ovary and womb.
The document stresses that there is a lack of evidence about the effects of taking or not taking HRT on the overall health of people aged 40 to 44, and NICE has recommended that there needs to be more research into this.
NICE is running a public consultation on the guidelines, which runs until 5 January 2024.
Professor Jonathan Benger, chief medical officer at NICE, said: “The impact of menopause symptoms on quality of life can vary hugely. It is important that healthcare practitioners take a personalised approach when discussing treatments, using evidence-based information tailored to individuals’ circumstances.
“Today’s draft guideline recommends more treatment options for managing menopause symptoms as well as enabling a wider understanding of the risks and benefits of HRT so anyone going through menopause can choose the best care to suit them.”
Professor Gillian Baird, NICE’s menopause guideline committee chair, said: “This update includes important evidence-based information to help both women and healthcare practitioners during their discussions about the best treatment to manage their symptoms. This gives women more choice and enables them to make informed decisions for their personal circumstances.”
The British Menopause Society welcomed the publication of updated guidance, as NICE menopause guidelines were last published in 2015.
Myra Hunter, professor of clinical health psychology at King’s College London, said: “Our research has shown that women learn skills that can be used in everyday life to improve their experience of menopause. I’m delighted that this approach is now recommended by NICE as an option for women with troublesome menopausal symptoms.”