What occurs during pregnancy could have longer-term health effects than originally thought. A new study suggests that women with a history of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes may experience a greater burden of hot flashes during the menopause transition. Study results will be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in San Diego, October 3-6, 2018.
It is estimated that among 60% to 80% of women experience hot flashes as part of menopause. Since hot flashes have been associated with vascular endothelial dysfunction, as have hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes, researchers involved in the new study hypothesized that such pregnancy disorders could lead to a greater number of hot flashes during menopause. Data from more than 2,200 women who participated in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) study was gathered as part of the research.
The study concluded that hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes may be modestly associated with a greater number of hot flashes. Women who had never been pregnant, in contrast, were found to have fewer hot flashes. The study additionally identified the important role of education and other social factors in influencing pregnancy outcomes and hot flashes.
"This study further underscores the importance of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia for later health, particularly cardiovascular health at midlife. Women with a history of these pregnancy disorders were heavier and more likely to be taking lipid-lowering medications and diabetes medications," says Dr. Rhoda Conant, lead author of the study from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.
"With so many women affected by hot flashes, healthcare providers need to understand all the underlying risk factors that could influence hot flashes at the time of menopause, says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director.
Explore further: High blood pressure in pregnancy may spell hot flashes later