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What is wild yam cream?

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Quick Answer

Wild yam cream is a topical product used by some women to reduce the severity of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The active chemical in the wild yam is diosgenin, and laboratory procedures turn diosgenin into steroids such as dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, and estrogen, according to WebMD.

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The effectiveness of wild yam cream for symptoms of menopause has yet to be established through research. While anecdotal claims indicate the cream has worked for some people, studies show that application of the cream for three months failed to relieve night sweats, hot flashes and other symptoms, and its effects on progesterone, estradiol and follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, all of which have a part in menopause, have not been established, explains WebMD.

While wild yam cream is safe on the skin, the research is still incomplete about effects on pregnant or breast-feeding women; it is recommended they avoid wild yam cream. People with any conditions that involve sensitivity to hormones, such as uterine cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids or ovarian cancer should not use the cream, as it can act like estrogen. This also increases the risk of clot formation in people with protein S deficiency; they should avoid it as well, notes WebMD.

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