Which Menopause Products Are Worth Buying?

More women experience menopause today than at any time in the nation's history, and there are an increasing numbers of products aimed at helping relieve the symptoms, from clothing to herbal supplements.

Most women experience menopause, the absence of menstruation for one year, in their late 40s or early 50s, but some start having menopausal symptoms earlier. Peri-menopause is used to describe the time period prior to menopause, which is on average, four to seven years.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested and evaluated a variety of products aimed at menopausal women.

Sleepwear for Menopausal Women

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested two brands of sleepwear to help women who have night sweats, in which their clothing becomes soaked during the night, leading to shivering and difficulty sleeping, since women must get up to change clothes. Sleepwear styles range from nightgowns to shortie sets for summer. The clothes are made from the same lightweight polyester fabrics used in active wear, which are known for their ability to wick away moisture from the body.

The tested products, which claim to wick away moisture, are:

Sleepwear from Hot Mama: Comes in assorted bright and pastel colors. Hot Mama uses the fabric "Coolmax." Prices are $24 for separates, $50 for nightgown. (www.hotcoolwear.com)

Sleepwear from Wicking J. Sleepwear: Wicking J. uses the fabric "Intera." Prices: $62 for T-shirt/shortie sets, $54 for nightgown. ( www.wjsleepwear.com)

The institute's textiles department evaluated the wicking of the sleepwear before and after 20 washes and also evaluated pilling, shrinkage and appearance after 20 washes. An outside lab evaluated the drying time of the clothes and MVT (moisture vapor transmission), measuring the evaporative abilities of the fabric. Results: The sleepwear wicked away moisture faster and better than regular fabrics, especially cotton, though Wicking J performed better than Hot Mama. They also did well in the shrinkage and appearance-after-wash tests. Even after 20 washings, both brands dried twice as fast as cotton. Neither of the products did well in the pilling test (the test conditions simulated a year's wear or 1,000 rubs), but this is true of any polyester-based fabric.

Consumer Tests: The textiles department had seven menopausal staffers and patients of Dr. Michelle Warren (director of Tte Center for Menopause and Hormonal Disorders and Women's Health at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York) wear the clothes at night and rate them. Each tested one brand for one week.

Results: Five of the seven testers rated the sleepwear highly for their ability to keep them more comfortable during and after night sweats. All seven testers scored the sleepwear high for comfort and quality.

Menopause Supplements

Concerns about hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, have led many women in menopause to try over-the-counter menopause supplements. Most herbal remedies haven't been tested for long-term safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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