Review on January 28, 2010
Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and around 80% of women will suffer from them as they reach the end of their reproductive life. Although it's commonly know that hot flashes are caused by changing hormone levels during menopause, the longevity of hot flashes suffered by some women post menopause is still relatively little researched.
A study has highlighted the plight of a significant minority of women post-menopause who have been suffering from uncomfortable and upsetting hot flashes ever since the onset of menopause. The three year survey began by using a questionnaire which 3167 women completed. All the subjects involved were post menopausal and suffering from osteoporosis. Of all the women, 11.8% (375 women) reported highly irritating hot flashes after the first questionnaire. Researchers were keen to say that of the group of 375 women suffering from hot flashes, a range of contributing factors were present. For instance, educated women tended to suffer less from whilst women with a higher body mass index were generally found to suffer more hot flashes post menopause. This could be due to a link between education and a healthier lifestyle. Women with weight issues, although they might have higher estrogen levels, are known to suffer more during menopause. Subjects who had been previously treated with hormone therapy were also more likely to suffer from hot flashes post menopause as were those suffering with high FSH levels.
The lack of any one cause which led to the increase in the number of hot flashes suffered in post menopause makes this problem difficult to treat but now a problem has been identified an appropriate therapy for post menopausal hot flashes should be easier to decide. Doctors did point out that women who were 5 to 9 years postmenopausal were more likely to suffer from hot flashes than those further into post menopause.
During the three year follow up research, in which 278 women recorded their symptoms of post menopause. Hot flashes that were uncomfortable for those women during the first study were still a problem three years later for around 10% of women.
This research indicates that a substantial amount of women continue to suffer from hot flashes after menopause and further research into the factors which add to this would benefit these women. However researchers were keen to point out that this study did come with certain restrictions. For example only women with osteoporosis were involved and the questionnaire was self assessed rather than being a medical test. Over all this research is a positive step to establishing the problems of hot flashes in postmenopausal women but more research needs to be done to identify an effective treatment.
- Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:2308-2312.