When I'm 64—I'll still have hot flashes?

March 2, 2015, The North American Menopause Society

Some 40% of women 60 to 65 years old still have hot flashes. For many, the hot flashes are occasional and mild, but for some, they remain really troublesome, shows a new study just published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Sexual symptoms also remain a problem for more than half these older women. Furthermore, women bothered by these symptoms are often not getting treatment, even though treatments are available.

This large study is one of the few to quantify how prevalent troublesome hot flashes are for women at different ages, not just whether the women have them. It included 2,000 women 40 to 65 years old who were representative of the Australian population.

More than 90% of them used no hormonal contraception, menopausal , or other prescription drugs to control their symptoms. Among these women, the share having hot flashes ranged from 33% of the premenopausal women to 74% of the postmenopausal women younger than 55. Hot flashes persisted in 42% of the women 60 to 65 years old. Hot flashes were troublesome—that is, they were rated moderately to severely bothersome on a standard questionnaire—for about 3% of the premenopausal women, 28% of the postmenopausal women younger than 55, 15% of the postmenopausal women 55 to 59 years old, and 6% of the 60 to 65 years old.

Among all the women surveyed, nearly 10% of the 60- to 65-year-olds were using hormone therapy, presumably because they still had troublesome symptoms. And fewer than 1% of the women in the oldest age group were using nonhormonal prescription therapies for hot flashes.

Among the women who used no vaginal estrogen, the rate of sexual symptoms (such as pain with intercourse) ranged from 44% in premenopause to 68% after menopause. Those sexual symptoms persisted in 62% of women 60 to 65 years old. Only 8% of the older women overall were using vaginal estrogen, despite the high rate of sexual symptoms.

Today, most guidelines recommend against using systemic hormones for women more than 10 years after menopause or after age 60 and to use them only for a limited time—ideally three to five years. But that leaves a group of women older than age 60 who have really bothersome symptoms without a hormone therapy option.

The "disconnect" between guideline recommendations and real-world clinical practice and the low utilization of effective nonhormonal therapies for hot flashes highlight that "menopause has gone 'off the radar' as an important health issue and remains undertreated," say the authors.

"Women need to know that they do still have options to treat their and sexual symptoms, even if they are older or cannot or do not wish to use hormone therapy," says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD. "NAMS encourages all women bothered by their symptoms to seek the help they need and not to give up."

The article, "Moderate to severe vasomotor and sexual symptoms remain problematic for aged 60 to 65 years," will be published in the July 2015 print edition of Menopause.

Explore further: PMS may spell menopause symptoms later—but not hot flashes

Related Stories

PMS may spell menopause symptoms later—but not hot flashes

May 21, 2014
Having premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before menopause does not mean women will be troubled by hot flashes afterward. But they may face more menopause complaints other than hot flashes, such as trouble with memory and concentration, ...

Hot flashes take toll on life, health, and work

February 22, 2013
Hot flashes put a damper on women's health and productivity at work and pump up the cost of health care. A study published online this month in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), has put ...

No hot flashes? Then don't count on hormones to improve quality of life

November 13, 2013
Hormones at menopause can help with sleep, memory, and more, but only when a woman also has hot flashes, find researchers at Helsinki University in Finland. Their study was published online today in Menopause, the journal ...

Soy spells fewer hot flashes for certain women

November 18, 2014
Does soy in the diet help with hot flashes? It does, but only for women whose bodies can produce the soy metabolite equol, reports a study of American women just published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American ...

Cancer survivors have more frequent and severe menopausal hot flashes

July 17, 2013
Women who survive cancer have more frequent, severe, and troubling hot flashes than other women with menopausal symptoms, according to a study published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause ...

High blood pressure in pregnancy may spell hot flashes later

April 3, 2013
Women who have hypertensive diseases during pregnancy seem to be at higher risk of having troublesome hot flashes and night sweats at menopause, report researchers from the Netherlands in an article published online today ...

Recommended for you

Graphic warning labels linked to reduced sugary drink purchases

June 18, 2018
Warning labels that include photos linking sugary drink consumption with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay, may reduce purchases of the drinks, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Study unmasks scale of patient doctor divide

June 13, 2018
A study has estimated that around three million Britons—or 7.6 % of the country—believe they have experienced a harmful or potentially harmful but preventable problem in primary healthcare.

Lentils significantly reduce blood glucose levels, study reveals

June 13, 2018
Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a first-ever University of Guelph study.

Researcher studies the impact religion has on sleep quality

June 13, 2018
Can a person's religious practices impact their sleep quality? That's the focus of a new study by Christopher Ellison in The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Sociology and his collaborators.

Mediterranean-style eating with lean, unprocessed red meat improves heart disease risk

June 13, 2018
Adopting a Mediterranean-style eating pattern improves heart health, with or without reducing red meat intake, if the red meat consumed is lean and unprocessed, according to a Purdue University nutrition study.

Sleeping too much or not enough may have bad effects on health

June 12, 2018
Fewer than six and more than ten hours of sleep per day are associated with metabolic syndrome and its individual components, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health that involved 133,608 ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

serena_burris
not rated yet Mar 18, 2015
Yes I agree there is still alternatives to hormones therapy to treat hot flahes and other menopause symptoms. Being healthy, doing some sport and following a diet is the first step. Search for every foods that can reduce hot flashes, avoid triggers like alcohol and cigarettes. Natural supplements such as Macafem or black cohosh can help too.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.