Hot flashes are a normal part of menopause, yet they are often hard to treat. And they are certainly difficult to live with as they cause many sleepless nights. So, how can gabapentin – which was originally used as an anti-seizure medication – alleviate hot flashes? Is gabapentin for menopause safe for women?
The answers might surprise you.
What is Gabapentin?
(Neurontin) is commonly used to treat nerve pain, shingles, and diabetes. There are two brands: Gralise (which is specifically for nerve pain) and Horizant (which gets used for nerve pain and restless leg syndrome). This medication is also being used as a way to treat bipolar disorder, chronic pelvic pain, concussion-induced headaches, andeven social phobias. Gabapentin has come to be one of the most highly prescribed nerve pain reliever on the market.
How Can It Help With Menopausal Hot Flashes?
Okay, so gabapentin treats nerve pain. How does it help with hot flashes? First, you need to understand what causes hot flashes. Hot flashes are actually vasomotor symptoms that cause you to feel sudden rushes of heat in your body, mostly across your face. It will feel like you're blushing when you aren't. This temperature dysfunction happens due to the natural, age-related changes in your gonadal hormones.
Doctors commonly prescribe estrogen hormones as treatment for menopause, but it isn't always effective. That is why some researchers are studying the effects of gabapentin on ht flashes. One study found that 900 mg per day for a trial period of four weeks decreased the severity and frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women with breast cancer. Doctors might want to start with a small 300 mg dosage taken right before bed and increase it from there as needed.
Further studies are warranted, but there is some evidence to suggest that gabapentin for menopause can provide relief from hot flashes and other nighttime irritations caused by gonadal hormone changes.
Is Gabapentin for Menopause Safe for Women?
For the most part, gabapentin is safe when taken according to prescription. It does have known interactions with opiates (like morphine and Vicodin), Naproxen (otherwise known as Aleve), and heartburn medications. Gabapentin might also make side effects more severe when it is taken with alcohol.
Gabapentin can cause some side effects. If you experience increased nervousness, unusual thoughts, tremors, swelling in your feet or hands, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should get in touch with your doctor.
If you want to stop taking gabapentin, quitting it cold turkey can make you feel absolutely miserable. Consult with your doctor on how you can safely wean yourself off gabapentin.
Gabapentin shows some promise for treating hot flashes, and more doctors are prescribing it for menopausal women. Hot flashes can be hard to treat since hormonal changes cause a lot of fluctuations, but there is relief available. If estrogen treatment isn't working for you, it might be time to ask your doctor about switching to gabapentin for menopause.