But It Can't Be Menopause Yet!

Vasomotor symptoms of menopause experienced by more than half of premenopausal women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Hot flashes, joint pain and night sweats aren't just for women during menopause. The symptoms can happen to women ahead of that mid-life transition.

More than half of racially diverse women who haven't yet reached menopause had symptoms of the condition early on, a recently published study found.

The findings are the first to show that middle-aged women can have menopause symptoms while still having their period.

Vasomotor symptoms are typically among women who have gone through menopause.

"Talk to your OB/GYN about night sweats and hot flashes."

The study, led by Susan Reed, MD, MPH, from the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, looked into how often hot flashes, night sweats and other vasomotor symptoms occurred among women over the age of 45 who still had regular periods.

More than 1,500 premenopausal women who were part of the Group Health organization were included in the study. Three-quarters of the participants were white.

The women were between 45 and 56 years old, not taking hormones and were having regular menstrual cycles without any missed periods.

The participants were asked whether they had any vasomotor symptoms and how often they occurred. They also reported how often they had joint pain or headaches.

Participants also received a survey on their soy intake. Soy has been shown to ease both premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms.

The researchers took note of participants' race and ethnic backgrounds, as well as their body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of their height and weight together.

Compared to white women, the researchers found that premenopausal Native American women were most likely to have had vasomotor symptoms, with two-thirds of them reporting symptoms.

Black premenopausal women followed behind with 61.4 percent reporting symptoms. White women came in third with 58.3 percent.

Among other ethnic women, 45.5 percent of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, 40 percent of Vietnamese, 38.9 percent Filipino, 35.9 percent Japanese, 31.3 percent East Indian and 29 percent Chinese reported vasomotor symptoms. For all other Asian women, 25.6 reported symptoms as well.

Among Hispanic women, 41.7 had vasomotor symptoms compared to 58.8 percent among non-Hispanic white women. And 42.1 percent of mixed ethnic women also reported vasomotor symptoms.

"The patterns observed previously among women in the menopausal transition and postmenopause are also observed in these premenopausal women," the researchers wrote in their report.

"We have the ability to describe differences among various Asian groups and we suspect that similar subtle differences will be observed in a population-based study with different Hispanic groups."

Concerning soy intake, eating soy was linked with vasomotor symptoms among white women but not other women. The findings were not significant.

According to researchers, white women who said they had menopausal symptoms "seemed to be more likely to have moderate soy intake."

The authors noted that their findings couldn’t be generalized to women who used hormone therapy, birth control pills, an intrauterine birth control device or who had had a hysterectomy, in which their ovaries are removed.

The authors also noted that women who responded to the survey might have been more likely to have menopausal symptoms. Future research should look into the genetic, environmental and cultural influences on menopausal symptoms, the researchers said.

The study, funded by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., was published online June 10 in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. The authors do not declare any conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 15, 2013
Last Updated:
August 6, 2013