Complementary or conventional medicine for menopausal symptoms

Complementary or conventional medicine for menopausal symptoms

Not “either or”, but “both”. The herea editorial team gives equal consideration to conventional and complementary medicine in order to provide menopausal women with a comprehensive range of information.

First, regarding the terms: complementary medicine includes practices used in conjunction with conventional medicine; alternative medicine includes practices used instead of conventional medicine. These two approaches are based on different models regarding the development and treatment of diseases than those of conventional, scientifically established medicine. This blog highlights the characteristics of both complementary and conventional medicine; alternative medicine is not discussed.

Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.

Complementary medicine

Like alternative medicine, complementary medicine considers the totality of body, mind and spirit. An internal imbalance of these elements can lead to illness. Treatment is therefore primarily concerned with restoring the balance between these three forces, stimulating self-healing powers, and preventing health disorders. In principle, complementary medicine considers people as being healthy, and the treatment is health-oriented.


Treatment methods

Complementary medicine treatments include naturopathic medicine, physical therapy, relaxation practices, and treatment methods such as homeopathy, osteopathy, and autohemotherapy, as well as methods from anthroposophic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.


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Who chooses complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine treatments are usually chosen not because of disappointing experiences with conventional medicine, but rather because of different perceptions of illness and healing. People who rely on strengthening self-healing energy and attribute an active role for themselves in regaining and maintaining their own health are more likely to choose complementary medicine methods.

Even the soul should receive treatment

In addition: People choose complementary medicine because it also takes psychological factors into account – something that, in their opinion, conventional medicine neglects. Those who see the causes of an illness as (also) residing within the psyche prefer holistic treatments.

People who rely on self-healing energy are more likely to choose complementary medicine methods.

Yes or no?

According to the German Cancer Center (DKFZ), people are generally more open to complementary medicine treatment if they answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do you want to play an active role in caring for yourself, instead of just “being treated?”
  • Are you worried that your doctor isn’t doing everything possible to ensure your recovery?
  • Are you worried about the risk of experiencing a relapse, and do you want to do something about that?
  • Are you concerned by the term “conventional medicine?” - Are you concerned that conventional medicine could be detrimental to your treatment?
  • Are you feeling so unwell that you don’t want to pass up any chance of recovery?


While individuals have little influence on their clinical treatment – they can refuse it, but usually cannot choose – most people perceive complementary medicine treatments as a personal initiative, in the sense of “I’m doing something for myself” and “I can improve my own situation.”


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Conventional medicine

The term “conventional medicine” is often used, but isn’t very clearly defined. According to Wikipedia, the term originated in the nineteenth century. At the time, this term was used to oppose the developing practices of homeopathy and naturopathy. It was meant to explain the medical science that was taught at universities.

Today, experts prefer to speak of “science-based” medicine instead of conventional medicine. This is based on scientifically provable facts and on scientifically developed knowledge concerning diseases. The development of conventional medicine: Anyone who develops and offers a form of treatment needs to be able to prove that it works. The technical term for this form of proof is called “evidence.” This also entails relevant knowledge of when a treatment works or not, for whom it works or doesn’t work, and what side-effects it could cause.

Anyone who develops a form of treatment needs to be able to show that it works. This is what we call evidence.

Cause and effect

Science-based medicine follows a cause-and-effect approach in its diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Cause and effect can be objectively shown using scientific methods. Here, in contrast to complementary medicine, there’s an emphasis on isolated factors as causes of disease; this approach is primarily disease oriented.

Conventional medicine also increasingly approaches humans as an interconnected system.

Who chooses conventional medicine?

For those who opt for conventional medical procedures, a “he who heals is right” approach is not enough. Healing has to be proven. But: How does this kind of proof “work”?

Individual testimonials are usually not enough; data from controlled clinical trials is needed. This data has to be made publicly available, such as through publication in an academic journal. The content also has to be checked for errors and be written comprehensibly. Experts develop treatment guidelines based on the data from these studies. These guidelines not only explain the effects of the treatment; the side-effects and possible long-term effects of different treatments must also be made clear. Therefore, the data must be evaluated properly: How good is the evidence? How reliable is the data?

In conventional medicine, treatment options are based on data from controlled clinical studies.


Safety and trust

Conventional medicine supporters tend to place their trust in “provable” results based on tested treatments and drugs. This kind of “evidence” gives them a sense of security and confidence. Criticism of complementary or alternative medicine focuses on the idea that data is lacking for most procedures, or that the existing data is insufficient to truly evaluate a given treatment. Last but not least, especially in the case of serious diseases such as cancer, they doubt that complementary treatments are sufficient to cure the disease.


Ultimately, a combination of both approaches is often useful for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. A holistic approach helps you to better understand your own body and to find out which methods can improve your quality of life.

Complementary medical approaches can be particularly useful for people who are skeptical about hormone replacement therapy, whose symptoms are rather mild, or who are not considering conventional medical treatment for other reasons.


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