Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Your doctor told you that perimenopause might be to blame for the way you have been feeling. What the heck is perimenopause and why is it happening to you? Now as you search for a supplement at the pharmacy to treat your symptoms both Amberen and Estroven look like options. Which one should you choose?
Menopause affects woman at different ages. Typically somewhere in the early 50’s women will experience menopause, defined as 12 consecutive months without a period. However, perimenopause can occur much earlier, as young as 35 for some women.
The term perimenopause simply means the time before menopause when estrogen hormone levels change and cause symptoms. The most common symptoms include:
|Hot flashes||Night sweats||Sweating for no reason|
|Menstrual cycle changes||Headaches||Forgetfullness|
|Sleep changes||Bladder control problems||Hair and skin changes|
|Weight gain||Muscle and join pain||Intolerance to foods|
|Painful periods||Abdominal tenderness||Low sex drive|
Ambreven and Estroven have long been marketed for this condition, so which one is better? Let’s compare these medications to help you pick the best option for you.
However, no healthcare professional should jump right into medication without first reviewing a few basic non medication tips.
1. Can lifestyle affect perimenopause symptoms?
Similar to most things in life, the choices you make can affect how severe your perimenopause symptoms are. In addition to helping with symptoms, these lifestyle changes can make you healthier overall.
Eat a healthy diet
1. Drink plenty of fluids, 2.5 to 3 liters per day is optimal for an adult female.
- Water or juices are best
- Limit sugary soft drinks
2. Eat small frequent meals, remember food can be the best medicine.
- Instead of three large meals try to eat smaller meals every 3-4 hours.
- Complex carbohydrates are key, these help feed the bacteria making up your microbiome in your intestines.
- Limit salt intake to help prevent water retention.
- Eat foods high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and calcium
- Avoid too much caffeine
Increase physical activity
Finding an activity you enjoy and doing it consistently. Doing this with a friend of family member is a great idea that can keep you sticking to the habit.
- The Surgeon General physical activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.
- Research has shown that alternating high intensity cardio with rest periods is better than just walking or jogging for a set amount of time.
3. Benefits directly related to perimenopause:
- Endorphins released during exercise can help limit the amount of pain perceived during menopausal symptoms.
- Increasing excercise has been shown to decrease perimenopause related depression and fatigue.
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- Sleepfoundation.org recommends adults be in this range for optimal health.
- Lack of sleep will make the symptoms of perimenopaus worse.
- Power naps earlier in the day are fine, but no long naps in late afternoon or evening.
- Good sleep hygiene is essential.
1. Don’t smoke
- Numerous studies show that smoking can bring on and worsen perimenopause symptoms especially hot flashes.
2. Avoid excessive drinking
- Drinking in excess can increase the number and severity of perimenopause symptoms.
What is a menopause belly?
Weight gain is very common during perimenopause. The weight is normally put on around the mid section leading to the concept of a menopause belly. As your estrogen levels decline the body is trying to preserve it. Because estrogen is stored in body fat the menopause belly can appear.
How do you get rid of menopausal belly fat?
Aside from being annoying extra weight in the mid section is dangerous. Your risk of heart disease increases as the waist to hip ratio increases.
These lifestyle changes above can have a major effect on menopause belly!
2. Amberen vs. Estroven comparing apples to apples
Amberen and Estroven are brand name products that have more than one active ingredient to help with perimenopause symptoms. In addition, they both have more than one formulation (different ingredients or different strengths).
Why is that important to you?
This is key because, comparing apples to apples will guide you to buying the right product for you. You may want to avoid one of the ingredients if you do not have symptoms it is used for. Also, it is important to know when you have a health condition where the ingredient(s) should be avoided.
Deciding on a product to use can be quite confusing. Amberen has two different formulations. One is for perimenopause symptoms and the other is for menopause symptoms. Obviously there will be a lot of overlap and you should confirm with your doctor which of these categories you fall into before buying anything.
Some key ingredients in Amberen include:
- Amino acids, minerals and vitamin E.
- An amino acid that has estrogen like effects especially on bone formation.
|Amberen Menopause Relief||Amberen Perimenopause Relief|
Magnesium disuccinate hydrate
Zinc difumarate hydrate
|Amberen menopause ingredients (plus)|
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
Folate (vitamin B9)
Methylcobalamin (vitamin B12)
- Several ingredients are antioxidants and reduce free radicals.
- Claims to increase energy and improve endocrine gland function.
- Products are easily split up between women over 35 in perimenopause or those in menopause.
- Does not contain estrogen.
- B vitamins have been shown effective in testing some menopausal symptoms.
- There is no information on how much of the each of the base ingredients are in the “proprietary blend”. They only say 400mg or 560mg, which is not normal for over the counter medications.
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) can interact with medications used for blood clots.
- Very few studies support these combination of active ingredients actually help with menopausal symptoms.
- 60 capsules is a 30 day supply and cost ~$24, which is $0.80 per dose.**
**Prices subject to change.
Does Amberen have estrogen in it?
While Amberen has a blend of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin E and other minerals it does not contain estrogen. Estrogen is the female hormone that is responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause as levels decrease in the body.
Many times doctors will give woman who suffer from menopausal symptoms a prescription for Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). These drugs will consist of estrogen and possibly other hormones. No Over The Counter (OTC) products like Amberen or Estroven will actually contain estrogen.
Does Amberen really work for menopause?
To date there have been two randomized, placebo controlled studies that are the hallmark of proving if a drug works to treat a condition. Both trials looked at Amberen over a 90 day timeframe for treating perimenopause symptoms.
Specifically, these studies found that Amberen was better than placebo at treating:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
Before you run out and buy Amberen make sure you keep in mind that these studies had some limitations that may make it not have the same outcome for you. These include:
- Did not have a diverse patient population.
- Only followed patients for a short time of 90 days.
- Were funded by the company that makes Amberen.
Federal Trade Commission Complaint on Amberen
In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against the Lunada Biomedical the manufacturer of Amberen. It stated that they used deceptive marketing. They alleged that the product made claims about treating the following symptoms that had no proof.
- Weight loss
- Losing belly fat
- Increased metabolism
- Relieving hot flashes and night sweats
The manufacturer settled and changed the marketing on the product to remove these claims. Keep that in mind when looking at any dietary supplement and claims they make. Always ask yourself, are the really true?
Estroven has seven different formulations. Six of them are marketed for menopause and one is for perimenopause. They target a womans primary symptoms by claiming to be for stress, weight, sleep, mood or energy.
Similar to Amberen there will be a lot of overlap and you should confirm with your doctor which of these categories you fall into before buying anything.
Some key ingredients in Estroven include:
Rhapontic Rhubarb Root Extract
There is 4mg of this extract as the primary ingredient in all of the seven Estroven formulations. The label breaks this down as 2.2mg of rhaponticin and 1mg of desoxyrhaponticin. These are simply variations of the form of the root extract.
There is no evidence of this root being effective at treating menopausal symptoms.
The table below lists the other ingredients in each one of the Estroven products. The only ingredients that have been studied on menopausal symptoms include black cohosh.
|Ingredient(s)||Rhubarb Root Extract||Rhubarb Root Extract|
Green tea extract
|Rhubarb Root Extract|
|Ingredient(s)||Rhubarb Root Extract|
|Rhubarb Root Extract|
|Rhubarb Root Extract|
|Rhubarb Root Extract|
What is not in Estroven
The manufacturer of Estroven markets the product as vegetarian. In addition it is hormone free including no estrogen. Other woman may find comfort in the non-GMO and MSG-free designations.
- The root extract of Estroven is supposed to stimulate estrogen receptors in the body to help with symptoms.
- Black cohosh which is found in six of the seven Estroven products has been shown to be helpful in menopausal symptoms.
- Products for mood, sleep, energy and stress do have ingredients that have been shown to be helpful for those problems outside of menopause.
- No randomized, placebo controlled studies have found Estroven to be effective in treating menopausal symptoms.
- The healthcare professional Estroven webpage that lists clinical evidence supporting the product is blank.
- Multiple ingredient products can cause unwanted side effects or drug interactions.
- 28 caplets, which lasts 28 days costs ~$19.97 or $0.71 per dose.**
- This is $0.09 less costly per dose than Amberen.
**Prices subject to change.
5. Key Points to Remember for both Amberen and Estroven
- If symptoms get worse, or new symptoms appear, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
- Talk to your pharmacist before taking other Over The Counter Medications (OTC).
- If you take a blood thinning medication ask your doctor before using these products.
What are the side effects of taking Estroven?
Both Estroven and Amberen can have side effects. The most common include:
|Discomfort known as malaise||Skin rash||Sleep disorders||Confusion|
|Nausea||Agitation||Abdominal swelling||Impaired taste|
6. How can I increase my estrogen naturally?
The best thing to do to keep menopausal symptoms at bay is to keep estrogen levels as normal as possible. A few easy ways to do that naturally is through food, vitamins and natural supplement products.
What foods help with menopausal symptoms?
- Sesame seeds
- Flax seeds
What vitamins should a menopausal woman take?
- Vitamin D
- B vitamins
What is the best natural menopause supplement?
- Black cohosh
- Evening primrose oil
- Red clover
7. What is the best menopause supplement on the market?
Reading reviews from online sights or forums about medications for menopause is one way to get your information. A better way is to listen to recommendations from reputable and authoritative organizations.
The North American Menopause Society is that organization when it comes to medication for these conditions. They recommend prescription hormone therapies and or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs as the best treatment options.
This is good news is a lot of great information can be found on their site about menopause.
Most over the counter products lack evidence
The OTC products largely make claims that are not always true. However, black cohosh and soy do have evidence supporting their use for menopausal symptoms.
Only buy products that have one of these active ingredients. Overall about 30% of woman will get a benefit from soy. The data is more mixed on black cohosh.
Non medication ideas
|Carry a portable fan|
|Cooling neck towel|
|Ice pack pillow|
|Wicking bed linen|
7. In Conclusion
Amberen and Estroven both make products that are similar. The ingredients are largely unproven but certainly some women do feel like these products work for them.
1. Menopause doesn’t have to be cured. Dealing with symptoms without medication can be just as effective.
2. Lifestyle changes may be as beneficial as over the counter supplements.
3. A trial of Amberen perimenopause would make the most sense due to the B vitamins.
4. A trial of one of the Estroven products with Black cohosh could make sense also.
Click here to get Dr. Jason Reed’s exclusive list of medication questions you MUST ask your doctor, for FREE!
Share your story
Have you used Amberen or Estroven? Also, please share how they worked for you. Chime in below with your comments and thoughts.