February 16, 2015
1 min read

Vasomotor symptoms last longer among midlife and black women

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Frequent night sweats and hot flashes last longer than 7 years in 50% of women in menopausal transition, according to a recently published study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“[Vasomotor symptoms] represent a frequent troublesome midlife experience among most women, but data on duration of these menopausal symptoms have been lacking. More than 50% of midlife women experience frequent [vasomotor symptoms], yet clinical guidelines typically underestimate their true duration,” Nancy E Avis, PhD, of the department of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, NC, and colleagues wrote.

Nancy E. Avis


Researchers analyzed data from the 17-year, multiracial/multiethnic Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), an observational study of the biological and psychosocial changes that occur during the menopausal transition. A total of 1,449 women between the ages of 42 and 52 years were included in the analysis for duration of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) during the menopausal transition and the length of frequent VMS after the final menstrual period.  

Results demonstrated the median VMS duration was 7.4 years, with the longest duration among women who were premenopausal or early perimenopausal when they first experienced frequent VMS (median > 11.8 years). They also had the longest post-final menstrual period persistence (median = 9.4 years).

VMS duration varied greatly by race and ethnicity (P < .001). Black women had the longest duration  (median = 10.1 years) and Japanese (4.8 years) and Chinese (5.4 years) women had the shortest duration.

Factors associated with shorter VMS duration were women with higher education levels, less financial strain, who were currently married or partnered or who had more social support.

“These findings can help health care professionals counsel patients about expectations regarding VMS and assist women in making treatment decisions based on the probability of their VMS persisting,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: Avis reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.