Menopause Symptoms Have Unappreciated Staying Power
About 80 percent of women going through menopause have to endure night sweats and the dreaded hot flashes. Clinical guidelines have suggested that these discomforts will typically abate after just two years. But several studies have called that timeline into question. And now the largest such investigation to-date finds that these unpleasant features of menopause can endure for as long as 14 years. The study is in JAMA Internal Medicine. [Nancy E. Avis, Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition]
Researchers surveyed almost 1,500 frequent symptom sufferers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The median time for the women to experience symptoms was 7.4 years. For African-American women, however, the median stretched out for 10.1 years, while women of Chinese ancestry only had to deal with the symptoms for about half as long. Women whose symptoms start out at the youngest age—including while still menstruating—tend to have to endure them the longest. The study did not address reasons for the racial differences, but did note that factors including smoking and higher perceived stress were associated with significantly longer symptoms.
The new info should enable healthcare providers to offer better guidance for women during this part of their lives. In light of how long some women may be affected, the researchers say that short-term hormone treatment may not be the best approach. They encourage the identification of safe, long-term therapies that women can use for what may be a decade or more.
—Dina Fine Maron