A recent study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association determining the duration of menopause symptoms in women, specifically hot flashes and night sweats. Prior to this study, it was commonly stated that menopause symptoms generally ranged from six months to two years. However, the research found that menopause symptoms averaged to about 7.4 years. The ethnic analysis showed that African-American women showed the longest duration of menopausal symptoms. The study was conducted in order to help physicians help counsel and personalize treatments for patients who are expecting to experience menopause or are already going through the motions of menopause.

The study was first conducted in February 1996 and concluded in April 2013 analyzing 3302 women. Hot flashes and night sweats were measured as menopausal symptoms as these were commonly reported as most bothersome. The eligibility requirements were the following: 42-52 years of age, intact uterus, a minimum of one ovary, no period three months before the screening, and no pregnancy, lactation, and no use of oral contraceptive or hormone therapy. The findings were collected through periodic questionnaires conducted in person. While statistics played a role in determining the frequency of menopausal symptoms, the questionnaire included other factors like psychosocial variables, sociodemographic characteristics, and lifestyle behaviors that also played a role in menopausal symptoms. The demographics showed that African-American women tended to experience longer duration of menopausal symptoms whereas Chinese women experienced the shortest duration of menopausal symptoms. It is interesting to note in this study that Chinese and Japanese ethnicities were separated rather than lumped together in one general ethnicity in comparison to the rest of the demographics.

Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night flashes, are commonly known as indicators of menopause and are known to affect quality of life, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, increasing bone loss, and higher bone turnover for women. Understanding the duration and frequency of these symptoms can help with finding methods to help relieve the symptoms in addition to helping physicians counsel, prepare, and better treat women who are to undergo or are already undergoing the symptoms of menopause.

In the future, it would be interesting to conduct an even more extensive study focusing on collecting data on not just physical effects and symptoms of menopausal symptoms (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure) but how long they last and how often they occur in addition to cultural and environmental factors. Now that there is information and data that quantifies the time period of menopausal symptoms, this can now be used to conducting further research using physiological methods to further confirm the findings and results. This in turn can help determine methods to develop safe and effective ways to treat menopausal symptoms in addition to better personalizing and specifying medical treatment for women who are experiencing or getting ready to experience these symptoms.

About This Blogger: Grace Kim

Grace Kim is currently a student at Arizona State University studying Biology with a concentration in Biology and Society. She is primarily interested in women’s health and hopes to pursue a career in science policy and/or science communications after graduate school. She enjoys learning about history, astronomy, and microbiology, and besides writing, she likes to bake, sew, and read in her spare time.