Hot Flashes Before Menopause? Yes, It Can Happen, Study Says

Hot Flashes Before Menopause? Yes, Really
Woman awake in bed beside husband
Woman awake in bed beside husband

Hot flashes and night sweats are two of the most common menopause symptoms, although their severity and duration can differ, depending on the person. Although not life threatening, these symptoms often are a major disruption to one's sleep patterns. Now a new study finds that more than half of middle-aged women with regular menstrual cycles also experience hot flashes.

Researchers from Group Health and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center surveyed 1,500 women between the ages of 45 and 56 -- all of whom had not skipped any periods -- and discovered that 55 percent of them were experiencing hot flashes or night sweats.

This study should help ease the concerns of women who have been taken aback by hot flashes and night sweats while they are still having regular periods. 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 Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, in a press release.

The groups with the highest proportions reporting hot flashes or night sweats were Native Americans (67 percent) and African-American (61 percent) women, but the differences between these groups and white women weren't statistically significant, researchers concluded. Fifty-eight percent of white women reported having hot flashes or night sweats.

Compared with them, Asian and Hispanic women were significantly less likely to experience the same symptoms.

In an interesting aside, researchers found that white women who had hot flashes and night sweats were more likely to include soy in their diet while white women who never had symptoms were more likely to have no soy in their diet.

Although the average age for menopause to occur is 51, it can actually take place any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later.

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