New long-term research shows that hot flashes continue, on average, for five years after menopause. More than a third of women can experience hot flashes for up to ten or more years after menopause.
A recent study evaluated 255 women in the Penn Ovarian Aging Study who reached natural menopause over a 16-year period. The results indicate that 80 percent reported moderate to severe hot flashes, 17 percent had only mild hot flashes, and three percent reported no hot flashes.
Hot flashes are momentary episodes of heat that can occur with other symptoms including sweating and flushing. Changing hormone levels after cessation of menses are believed to cause hot flashes as well as other menopausal symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, joint and muscle pain, and memory problems. Hormone therapy repletes the hormones estrogen and progesterone the body stops making during menopause, and it has been proven an effective treatment for hot flashes.
Although hormone therapy is highly effective, it is not recommended for all women. In addition, concerns about health hazards linked to hormone therapy have made some physicians hesitant to prescribe it, or to adhere strictly to recommended duration guidelines; current guidelines suggest that exogenous hormones should not be taken for more than five years. This new research on the long-term persistence of hot flashes suggests that women should collaborate with their physicians to determine the risks and benefits of different hormonal and nonhormone therapies available for menopausal symptoms. Women should be able to individualize their treatment to appropriately minimize the the symptoms they may have, no matter how severe or how persistent. To learn more about the variety of treatments available for menopausal symptoms, visit Northwestern’s Menopause website here
Source: Ellen W. Freeman, Mary D. Sammel, Richard J. Sanders. Risk of long-term hot flashes after natural menopause. Menopause, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000000196