Alternatives to HRT: Lifestyle Options

Not all women want to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and women who have had breast cancer or are at high risk for breast cancer are not advised to do so, due to fears it will increase the risk of cancer or a recurrence.

An alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is to avoid hot flash triggers like spicy foods, caffeine, stressful situations, and hot drinks

The other option is to try to avoid hot flash triggers like spicy foods, caffeine, stressful situations, and hot drinks. You may also want to try sleeping in a cool room; carrying a hand fan; dressing in cotton and in layers; or paced respiration exercises (deep, slow abdominal breathing).

Here are some other things you can do on a day-to-day basis to help alleviate hot flashes—or at least make them easier to bear:

  • Keep the heat turned down, especially in the bedroom at night.
  • Dress in layers that can be easily shed when your temperature rises.
  • Wear exercise clothing that wicks away sweat during the day and at night.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Learn and practice stress reduction.
  • Learn and practice paced respiration. Paced respiration is breathing from deep inside your abdomen, while slowing your breaths to five to six times a minute (normal is 10–15 breaths per minute). You practice breathing in for five seconds and breathing out for five seconds to get the timing right. Practice every day for 15 minutes. Then, if you feel a hot flash coming on, try decreasing your breathing, which may help nip that hot flash in the bud.

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