In 2008, the National Institutes of Health funded the Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health or MSFlash clinical trials network.  The primary goal of MSFlash has been to find and test new strategies for alleviating the most common and bothersome menopausal symptoms by designing and conducting multiple concurrent clinical intervention studies at several different sites.

Since its inception the MSFlash network has completed five randomized clinical trials and three ancillary studies, assessing nine interventions in over 1,300 women.  This month an article published in Menopause summarizes the findings of these studies:

Women treated with escitalopram, venlafaxine, and low-dose estradiol experienced a 50% reduction in hot flashes, compared to  a 30% seen in women receiving placebo. 

With regard to bone turnover markers no significant differences were found between between escitalopram and placebo over 8 weeks, suggesting minimal or no short-term impact of SSRIs on bone metabolism.

Women experienced no improvement in vasomotor symptoms with yoga or exercise compared to usual activity, 

Women experienced no improvement in vasomotor symptoms nor with omega-3 supplementation compared to placebo. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia reduced self-reported insomnia symptoms and improved overall sleep quality compared to psychoeducation.

Women did not experience benefit from a vaginal estradiol tablet or vaginal moisturizer for the treatment of vaginal symptoms compared to placebo.

The MsFLASH trials have contributed significantly to improving the clinical management of women with menopausal symptoms.   In addition, nearly 16,000 bio-specimens have been collected from this sample; future research will help us to better understand the pathophysiologic mechanisms which may underlie menopausal symptoms.

Rta Nonacs, MD PhD

Reed SD, LaCroix AZ, Anderson GL, Ensrud KE, Caan B, Carpenter JS, Cohen L, Diem SJ, Freeman EW, Joffe H, Larson JC, McCurry SM, Mitchell CM, Newton KM, Sternfeld B, Guthrie KA.  Lights on MsFLASH: a review of contributions. Menopause 2020 Jan 20.