Menopause is by no means easy to go through and although it represents a natural process that a woman’s body experiences, its symptoms are unpleasant to say the least. As conventional wisdom would have it, common menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, should only last for a couple of years. However, a recent study published in Monday’s issue of JAMA International Medicine suggests that these figures might be a bit off.
In fact, menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms were found to persist for as much as 13 years, the study found. 1,449 women were included in the study, of racially, geographically and ethnically diverse origins, who all experienced frequent and long-lasting hot flashes. By frequent, the study authors meant that women included in the study experienced hot flashes for a minimum of 6 days in a period of 2 weeks). The women, who were followed during the time of the study (the largest of its kind) endured the symptoms for an average time length of 7.4 years.
Menopausal symptoms represent the reason why many affected women seek relief in the form of hormone replacement therapy. And while half the women included in the study experienced symptoms for fewer than 7.4 years (the median time), the other half experienced symptoms for as many as 13 years.
Two primary outcomes were identified by researchers: total vasomotor symptom duration and the post-FMP (Final Menstrual period) persistence. Data collected by researchers revealed that the timing of menopause represented an important factor where vasomotor symptoms were concerned. In the case of women who experienced particularly long VMS durations as well as post-FMP persistence (a median of more than 11.8 respectively 9.4 years), the first symptoms appeared while the women were premenopausal or early perimenopausal.
Contrastingly, the shortest VMS durations were recorded in those study subjects who began experiencing symptoms while they were postmenopausal, with a median VMS duration of 3.4 years.
Researchers also identified other influencing factors. The longest VMS durations were experienced by African-American women (with a median duration of 10.1 years) while the shortest durations were recorded in Japanese and Chinese women (4.8 years respectively 5.4 years). Caucasian non-Hispanic women had VMS durations of 6.5 years, while Hispanic women experienced a VMS duration of 8.9 years. Younger age, previous smoking, depression, anxiety as well as lower education levels were also associated to longer VMS durations.
On the other hand, women with partners and increased social support, less financial burden and higher educational levels experienced shorter VMS durations. Such findings, study authors wrote, may help treating physicians to properly counsel their patients where expectations and dealing with the symptoms are concerned.
Additionally, they can take the probability of the longer persistence of the VMS into account when deciding on medical treatment or hormone replacement therapy in order to identify a safe and long term solution.
Image Source: Image Kid
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