According to a new study, one of the symptoms frequently experienced by women when hitting menopause can last more than initially expected. Results showed hot flashes can last up to seven years
Nancy Avis, a professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. and also the study’s lead author said “women should not be surprised if their hot flashes last a number of years”.
A woman can consider she has entered her menopausal stage when her last period took place more than 12 consecutive months ago and she is between the ages of 45 and 55.
Due to a decrease in estrogen and other hormone levels, a lot of changes take place in the body that generate the typical menopausal symptoms: hot flashes (which can be described as an acute feeling of heat), nocturnal sweating and weight gain.
According to the results published in in the JAMA Internal Medicine online journal on Monday Feb. 16, four out of five women have hot flashes and sweat profusely during night time some years (up to 12) before menopause.
Some participants were able to give out the precise date of their last cycle and the period during which they experienced hot flashes. It resulted that the average time period during which women have these symptoms is 4.5 years since the beginning of menopause.
Avis considers that these results show a need in finding better solutions for treating the effects of menopause as they affect a woman’s quality of life and her sleep, leading to a lowered level of physical health.
There are few options when it comes to the treatment of menopause symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy is not recommended as a recent study shows this treatment, even if taken for a short period of time, can increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the preventive medicine department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who also co-authored the menopause study explained how some women might need several types of treatments.
One can start with low doses of oral contraceptives if such symptoms are experienced even before menopause sets in. There are a few medicinal and non-medicinal options that can relieve but without completely removing the symptoms.
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