Hot flashes are one of the most common and distressing symptoms associated with menopause, occurring in more than 75% of postmenopausal women. They are especially problematic in breast cancer patients since some breast cancer therapies can induce hot flashes. For mild hot flashes, it is proposed that behavioral modifications are the first step in management. Hormonal therapies, including estrogens and progestogens, are the most well known effective agents in relieving hot flashes; however, the safety of these agents is controversial. There is an increasing amount of literature on nonhormonal agents for the treatment of hot flashes. The most promising data regard newer antidepressant agents such as venlafaxine, which reduces hot flashes by about 60%. Gabapentin is another nonhormonal agent that is effective in reducing hot flashes. While many complimentary therapies, including phytoestrogens, black cohosh, and dehydroepiandrosterone, have been explored for the treatment of hot flashes; none can be recommended at this time. Furthermore, there is a lack of strong evidence to support exercise, yoga, or relaxation for the treatment of hot flashes. Paced respirations and hypnosis appear to be promising enough to warrant further investigation. Another promising nonpharmacological therapy, currently under investigation, involves a stellate ganglion block.
Keywords: hot flashes; menopause; therapy; vasomotor symptoms.