After struggling with perimenopause symptoms for several years, most women are looking forward to entering postmenopause, hoping it would bring an end to their discomforts. Unfortunately, that it not always the case. In this study, Chinese scientists compared the prevalence and severity of menopause symptoms in peri- and postmenopausal women.
Data used in this retrospective descriptive study belong to 1,225 women, between the ages of 34 and 76. They were patients at the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, seeking help for menopause symptoms.
Women had no history of taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Through a variety of extensive questionnaires, they were evaluated for medical, lifestyle, and sociodemographic characteristics as well as 14 menopause symptoms, including joint pain, vaginal dryness, headaches, and hot flashes, among others.
Researchers found that the most severe and commonly reported symptoms for all menopause women were fatigue (76%), insomnia (69%), irritability (67%), palpitations (63%), and depression (62%). The prevalence of hot flashes and night sweats was less than 50%.
Those passing through perimenopause mainly complained of insomnia, fatigue, night sweats, hot flashes, and headaches, while postmenopausal women reported insomnia, fatigue, irritability, dyspareunia (painful sex), and night sweats.
Overall, postmenopausal women showed a significantly higher prevalence and severity for the majority of the symptoms.
What Does It Mean?
Contrary to what may be commonly believed, this study has found that postmenopausal women were plagued with more prevalent and severe symptoms than those in perimenopause.
Interestingly, hot flashes and nights sweats (which are generally the hallmark symptoms of perimenopause) were prevalent in less than half of studied women. Other studies have reported hot flashes in more than 80% of middle-aged women.1
While it is true that every woman's mid-life transition is different, understanding the overall patterns of menopause symptoms across its phases can help women handle them more easily. It can also give women reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles and that other women like them are also faced with similar discomforts.
- Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology. (2016). Prevalence of climacteric symptoms comparing perimenopausal and postmenopausal Chinese women. Retrieved March 31, 2021 from https://sci.bban.top/pdf/10.1080/0167482X.2016.1244181.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,-15,833
- Journal of Mid-Life Health. (2019). Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Concise Review. Retrieved March 31, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6459071/