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12 June 2013
Hot flashes before menopause unexpectedly common

A surprising new survey published in the journal Menopause has revealed that more than half of middle-aged women who still have regular menstrual cycles have hot flashes.

The survey, conducted by researchers at Group Health and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, consisted of a diverse group of women, including whites, blacks, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, women of mixed ethnicity, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Japanese, East Indians, Chinese, and other Asians. The women were 45 to 56 years old, had regular cycles, had no skipped periods, and were not taking hormones.

The survey found that 55 percent of them reported having hot flashes or night sweats. The groups with the highest proportions reporting hot flashes or night sweats were Native Americans (67 percent) and black (61 percent) women, but the differences between these groups and white women weren't statistically significant. Fifty-eight percent of white women, the largest ethnic group, reported having hot flashes or night sweats.

Interestingly, white women who had symptoms were more likely to include soy in their diet, and white women who never had symptoms were more likely to have no soy in their diet.

The researchers say the study should help ease concerns for women who have been surprised by hot flashes and night sweats while they are still having regular cycles. "It doesn't necessarily mean they are in menopause yet, and it's perfectly normal. Some women even have a hot flash the first couple of nights after childbirth," said Margery Gass, North American Menopause Society Executive Director.

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Source: The North American Menopause Society

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