Psychosocial, behavioral, and health factors related to menopause symptomatology
Document Type Article
Despite wide variation in the reporting of hot flashes and night sweats among menopausal women, what differentiates symptomatic from asymptomatic women is not well understood. In this article, we use longitudinal data from a large cohort of initially premenopausal women to address premenopausal factors predictive of length of the perimenopause, frequency of hot flash/night sweat (HF/NS) reporting, bothersomeness of HF/NS, and treatment seeking during menopause. The sample for analysis consists of 454 women from the Massachusetts Women's Health Study who were premenopausal at baseline and postmenopausal by the sixth and last study follow-up. Each of the four study outcomes was modeled as a function of premenopausal characteristics using logistic regression. Results confirm a wide range of symptom reporting, with 23% of women not reporting HF/NS at any of the six interviews. Variables related to greater frequency of HF/NS reporting included a longer perimenopause, more psychological and physical symptoms prior to menopause, lower education, and more negative attitudes toward menopause prior to menopause. Symptom bothersomeness was related to greater frequency of HF/NS reporting, smoking, and being divorced. Variables that predicted medical doctor consultation were greater frequency and bothersomeness of symptoms, higher education, and greater health care utilization. We conclude that general symptom reporting, attitudes toward menopause, and lifestyle factors can explain some of the individual variation in symptom reporting.