Tuesday, 17 February 2015

More Than Half of Women Have Hot Flashes for at Least 7 Years


Finding suggests need for better treatments for menopause-related symptoms, study author says

HealthDay – Not on Site

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats aren't a short-term problem. More than half of women experience these unpleasant change-of-life symptoms for seven years or more, a new study finds.

"Women should not be surprised if their hot flashes last a number of years," said lead researcher Nancy Avis, a professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Four out of five women experience hot flashes and night sweats in the years before their periods cease, leaving some with almost 12 years of unpleasant symptoms, the study found. And women who could pinpoint their final period reported symptoms persisted for an average of 4.5 years afterward.

The findings, published online Feb. 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest a need for "more research on safe and effective ways to relieve these symptoms," Avis said. Menopausal symptoms affect quality of life, disrupt sleep and result in worse physical health, she and her colleagues noted.

Menopause -- which is confirmed when a woman's periods have ceased for 12 consecutive months -- occurs most often between ages 45 and 55, according to the North American Menopause Society. The symptoms women experience are related to lower levels of estrogen and other hormones. Common among these symptoms are hot flashes -- quick feelings of heat sometimes accompanied by sweating.

One option -- hormone replacement therapy -- is avoided by many women because it has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, Avis said. "Also, women who have had breast cancer cannot take hormone replacement therapy," she noted.

Last week, researchers reported in The Lancet that taking hormone replacement therapy for even less than five years after menopause increased a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by about 40 percent.

But alternatives to hormone replacement therapy exist, Avis and another expert said.

"Talk to your doctor about your symptoms if they are interfering with your quality of life. There are effective treatments available," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and co-author of an accompanying journal editorial.

source : More Than Half of Women Have Hot Flashes for at Least 7 Years

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