Soy Nutrition Institute
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Feb 23, 2015

Hot flashes last a lot longer than commonly perceived

Vasomotor symptoms (VMS), including hot flashes and night sweats, are hallmarks of the menopausal transition and can significantly affect quality of life. Up to 80% of women experience VMS during the menopause transition and most rate them as moderate to severe. VMS are one of the chief menopause-related problems for which US women seek medical treatment. The expected duration of VMS is important to women making decisions about possible treatments.

To provide data on duration researchers associated with the SWAN surveyed women reporting symptoms to gather information about duration. The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) is a multiracial/multiethnic observational study of the menopausal transition among 3302 women enrolled at 7 US sites. From February 1996 through April 2013, women completed a median of 13 visits. Analyses included 1,449 women with frequent VMS.

Key findings of this survey are that the median duration of symptoms was 7.4 years. However several factors markedly affected whether a given woman experienced symptoms to a greater or lesser extent than the median. For example, the median duration for women who began experiencing symptoms during the perimenopausal period was >11.8 years whereas the duration of symptoms for women who experienced them only beginning postmenopause was only 3.4 years. There was also a big difference among ethnicities as the median duration for Black, Hispanic, White, Chinese and Japanese women was 10.1, 8.9, 6.5, 5.4 and 4.8 years, respectively. (Note, previously published research shows isoflavones effectively alleviate hot flashes Menopause 19: 776-790, 2012).

Avis NE, Crawford SL, Greendale G, et al. Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition. JAMA Intern Med. (2015).c