Clinical Health Updates

Sertraline (Zoloft) ineffective for hot flushes

Clinical Question:
Is sertraline an effective treatment for menopausal hot flushes?

Bottom Line:
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.

Reference:
Grady D, Cohen B, Tice J, Kristof M, Olyaie A, Sawaya GF. Ineffectiveness of sertraline for treatment of menopausal hot flushes. Obstet Gynecol 2007;109:823-830.

Study Design:
Randomized controlled trial (double-blinded)

Synopsis:
To estimate the effect of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline on hot flush frequency and severity in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. The authors performed a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial in women aged 40 to 60 years with 14 or more hot flushes per week (N=99). Women were randomly assigned initially to daily oral sertraline (50 mg) or identical placebo for 2 weeks. If no substantial side effects were noted, the dose was increased to two tablets daily (100 mg sertraline or placebo) and continued for an additional 4 weeks. Hot flush frequency and severity were recorded on a daily diary. Hot flush score was calculated as frequency multiplied by severity. Participants also completed questionnaires addressing quality of life, menopausal symptoms, sleep quality, sexual function, mood, and side effects. After 6 weeks of treatment, hot flush frequency decreased similarly in both the placebo (38%) and sertraline (39%) groups (P=.94). Mean hot flush scores also decreased similarly in both groups (41% and 42%, respectively, P=.86). Compared with placebo, women in the sertraline group were more likely to report gastrointestinal complaints, dry mouth, and dizziness. Treatment with sertraline also resulted in greater worsening of scores on the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Short Form 36 standardized physical component and the global Female Sexual Function Index. Results were similar in women at least 80% adherent to study medication.