Older women still suffer from hot flushes and night sweats years after the menopause, finds study

Women still have hot flushes and night sweats years after the menopause finds a new study published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Hot flushes and night sweats (HF/NS) are the main physical signs of the menopause, however their prevalence, frequency, severity and duration vary considerably.

The average age of the menopause in US and European women is 50-51 years and it is generally assumed that HF/NS last between 2 to 5 years.

This study looked at 10,418 (defined as more than 12 months amenorrhea or commenced for menopausal symptoms) aged between 54 and 65.

The average age of the participating women was 59 and the majority were white, living in urban localities and of slightly above average .

The study looked at the impact of age, BMI, , hormone therapy use, lifestyle and mood on women's experience of HF/NS.

The participating women completed a questionnaire, which included sociodemographics, weight and height, and medical history. Three and a half years later, they were sent a follow up questionnaire asking them about , skirt size at age 20, current skirt size, hot flushes and night sweats and current hormone therapy (HT) use.

The majority (89.6%) of women had experienced HF/NS at some time, more women having had hot flushes (86%) than night sweats (78%). However, over half (54%) of the women were currently having HF/NS and the prevalence was fairly even across the age range. The frequency of HF/NS was 33.5 per week and this remained broadly at this level across the age range.

The study also found that factors such as previous hysterectomy, having been a smoker and higher helped predict women who had ever had HF/NS. Moreover, anxiety, hysterectomy, , years since last and (less) education helped predict current HF/NS prevalence.

Women who were currently taking HT (12%) were less likely to report current HF/NS, while past users who had discontinued HT were more likely to have HF/NS across the age range.

Professor Myra Hunter, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London and co-author said:

"Our study looked at a large number of older postmenopausal women and we were surprised to find that menopausal symptoms persisted in over half of the women. They were still having hot flushes on average ten years after their last period.

"Age didn't seem to affect the prevalence or frequency of the symptoms. Health professionals need to be aware that women can still have hot flushes and night sweats in their late 50s and 60s. There is a need for effective non-hormonal treatments for women with problematic hot flushes and night sweats, and for women who have a recurrence of after they stop taking hormone therapy."

Professor Philip Steer, BJOG editor-in-chief added:

"This paper highlights how many older women continue to experience and these may vary in severity and how they affect a woman's quality of life. Interestingly age appears to be less of a significant factor in predicting these symptoms.

"There needs to be increased awareness of this amongst women and health professionals and more research into future treatments."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

18 hours ago

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

Medtronic spends $350M on another European deal

Aug 27, 2014

U.S. medical device maker Medtronic is building stronger ties to Europe, a couple months after announcing a $42.9 billion acquisition that involves moving its main executive offices across the Atlantic, where it can get a ...

User comments