Sertraline Ineffective for Treating Hot Flushes

Drug associated with lower quality of life and sexual function compared with placebo

THURSDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline is no more effective than a placebo in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flushes and has more side effects, including worse sexual function, researchers report in the April 1 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Deborah Grady, M.D., and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco randomized 99 women, aged 40 to 60, who had 14 or more hot flushes per week to oral sertraline (50 mg/day) or placebo for two weeks. The dose was increased to 100 mg/day if no side effects were observed and treatment continued for an additional four weeks.

The researchers found that the sertraline and placebo groups were similar in terms of reduction in the frequency of hot flushes (39 versus 38 percent, respectively) and reduction in mean hot flush scores (42 versus 41 percent, respectively). Side effects including gastrointestinal complaints, dry mouth and dizziness were more common in the sertraline group. Sertraline was also associated with reduced physical quality of life and worse sexual function, the report indicates.

"Treatment with sertraline did not improve hot flush frequency or severity in generally healthy perimenopausal and postmenopausal women, but was associated with bothersome side effects," Grady and colleagues conclude.

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