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MenoPause Blog

The ABCs of SERMs

by JoAnn Pinkerton | May 02, 2016

If you are going through menopause, you probably have heard about alternatives to estrogen therapy that can treat your hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. These include selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), which as their name implies, selectively activate or block estrogen receptors in certain areas of the body and not in others. That can make them safer than estrogen alone and result in fewer side effects.

There are FDA-approved SERMs to selectively target, prevent, and treat several diseases, including breast cancer and osteoporosis, as well as the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as vulvovaginal atrophy, which can lead to painful sex.

And although there is no SERM that alone can relieve hot flashes, there is a SERM combination being used for hot flashes that combines estrogens with the SERM bazedoxifene. Together, they form what’s called a tissue-selective estrogen complex, or TSEC. This drug has been FDA approved to treat hot flashes and to prevent osteoporosis in women with a uterus.

You should talk to your clinician about SERMs if you are experiencing hot flashes and have a history of breast cancer, have been told you have low bone density, want to avoid uterine bleeding or changes in breast density, or sex is painful for you. For a more thorough discussion about SERMs, see the NAMS video What Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) Can Do for You.

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We strive to bring you the most recent and interesting information about various aspect of menopause and midlife health. We accept no advertising for our website. We want you to have accurate, unbiased, evidence-based information. 

JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, NCMP
Executive Director


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