As many as 80 percent of menopausal-transitioning women struggle with vasomotor symptoms (VMS) from hot flashes to night sweats. Other complaints include vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain, thinning hair, bladder issues, insomnia, fatigue, and bone loss. But according to a new study, over 50 percent of women suffer from frequent agonizing bouts for seven or more years ― longer than doctors thought.
Investigating Menopausal Differences
Despite pervasive VMS issues among middle-aged women, limited research has examined its underlying causes, varied symptom types and durations, sociodemographic connections, and clinical correlations. The standard consensus asserts that symptoms last just a couple of years without impacting living quality in major ways, explains Dr. JoAnn Manson, one of the study’s authors. But the researchers discovered that women’s menopausal experiences differ dramatically. VMS courses varied substantially between menopausal progression stages and ethnic factions. This study supports mounting evidence that many women’s symptoms are much more persistent and disruptive than doctors have believed.
The scientists analyzed 1996-2013 data on women with numerous ethnic backgrounds who were transitioning into menopause. Of the almost 1500 subjects with repetitive symptoms that had occurred a minimum of six days during the prior two-week period, the median overall VMS interval was 7.4 years. Those who endured the longest 11.8-year VMS stretch were premenopausal to early perimenopausal at the first time they reported having symptoms frequently. Following their last menstrual periods, persistent symptoms continued for around 9.4 years. Subjects in the postmenopausal stage when VMS started experienced the shortest 3.4-year span following their concluding menstrual periods.
Of all ethnic groups, African-Americans had the longest 10.1-year VMS phase. Next were Hispanic women at 8.9 years. Non-Hispanic white subjects followed at 6.5 years. Chinese and Japanese women indicated having the shortest menopause symptom timeframes with 5.4- and 4.8-year median totals, respectively. Multiple studies show that African-Americans are more liable to report their hot flash symptoms than Caucasians while Asians have a lower likelihood, co-author Dr. Nancy Avis explains. This study demonstrates that similar patterns apply to durations as well. While the reasons for these differences are unclear, they remain consistent.
Additional environmental aspects contributed to prolonged menopausal symptom journeys. Manson correlated psychosocial factors like lower education levels and financial strains to how much symptoms bothered subjects and impaired their satisfaction levels. Lengthier VMS terms at younger ages also brought greater stress perceptions, increased depression, anxiety, and more intense symptom sensitivity.
Decreasing Your Symptoms Medically
While the researchers didn’t design their study to help patients reduce VMS specifically, it may encourage doctors to accept that menopausal symptoms can linger for longer times. The findings could help clinicians identify certain characteristics in women who experience extended durations, says Avis. When counseling patients about VMS, this study inspires physicians to provide more personalized approaches that include racial, ethnic, and cultural differences.
Various options ranging from medical interventions to lifestyle changes are effective at managing menopause’s life-disrupting effects. If they’re making you miserable, understanding your unique symptom persistence probabilities may help facilitate your treatment decision. The study’s authors advocate hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that replenishes your female hormones when your body quits making them. While Prempro relieves hot flashes and vaginal symptoms including dryness, irritation, and burning, it also helps you avoid osteoporosis.
Exploring Lifestyle Remedies
Clothing: Dress in layers to maximize adjustable comfort. If you’re wearing a tank top, short-sleeved shirt, and lightweight jacket, just remove and replace the one to two top layers as your hot flashes come and go. Choose lightweight sleeping attire that wicks perspiration.
Room temperature: Adjust your home’s thermostat to provide a cooler temperature. Use ceiling, desktop, and personal fans to cool down during heated episodes.
Ice water: Drinking refreshing ice water may cool down your body quickly during hot flashes. Take a portable bottle with you everywhere. Put an insulated glass on your night table at bedtime in case night sweats awaken you.
Foods: The Mayo Clinic reports that some foods instigate hot flushing in many women. It advises reducing or eliminating caffeine, hot beverages, spicy foods, and alcohol. Foods containing natural estrogens might help curtail overheating and sweatiness. Try alfalfa, oats, olive oil, olives, papaya, peas, and soy products.
Exercise: Work out 30 or more minutes per day to decrease menopausal discomforts while encouraging weight control. Walk, jog, or swim your way to relief. Yoga’s exercise, meditation, and controlled breathing combination may help decrease hot flashes.
Relaxation: Mayo Clinic doctors recommend progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and deep breathing to balance troublesome reactions.
Supplements: Menopause may hinder your body’s calcium absorption, but a supplement can replenish this vital mineral. Also add magnesium and vitamin D to boost your body’s calcium usage. A multivitamin that includes extra zinc can increase your progesterone to help balance your hormones while reducing heated flushing.
Naturopathic solutions: Some women achieve menopausal symptom relief from herbs like black cohosh, licorice root, and sarsaparilla. Helpful essential oils include almond and geranium oils. Try using vitamin E oil vaginally for dryness.