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An average of 60-80% of all menopausal women experience bothersome vasomotor symptoms (VMSs), such as flushing and sweating, within the first seven years of onset. However, despite increasing prevalence, these hot flashes remain hard to treat and have a negative effect on the quality of life. Though hormone replacement therapy is commonly utilized as a standard treatment for VMSs, this therapy is not recommended for all women. Specifically, the oral form of hormone replacement therapy is associated with several contraindications, including a history of thromboembolic disease, migraine headache with aura, liver failure, heart disease, and hormone-dependent cancers. For women with these medical conditions, current literature indicates that nonhormonal therapies such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are suitable alternatives to reduce the frequency and intensity of VMSs. Currently, the only SSRI that is FDA-approved for the treatment of VMSs is paroxetine, but studies show that fluoxetine, citalopram, escitalopram, and sertraline are also proven to provide similar benefits. Similarly, the SNRI venlafaxine has also been well tolerated and has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. The present investigation reviews the physiology of VMSs and examines the evidence for the use of nonhormonal pharmacologic therapies as treatment for women experiencing hot flashes. These interventions should be considered whenever hormone replacement therapy is contraindicated, with therapy individualized based on the severity of symptoms.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.