The impact and management of symptoms experienced at midlife: a community-based study of women in north east Scotland

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Abstract

Objectives: To determine the frequency and management of menopausal symptoms among community-dwelling women.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: North east Scotland.
Population: Women aged 45-54 registered with 16 general practices.
Methods: In 2009, a self-completed questionnaire enquiring about the frequency, associated level of bothersomeness and management of 23 symptoms experienced during the previous month was sent to 8,206 women.
Main outcome measures: The proportion (95% CI) of women reporting each symptom and management strategy.
Results: Hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness were reported by 46.7% (95% CI 45.2-48.2), 46.4% (95% CI 44.9-47.9) and 28.2% (95% CI 26.9-29.6) of women, respectively. Two-fifths of women rated these symptoms as quite a bit or extremely bothersome. More than 60% managed menopausal symptoms using social support by talking to friends and family. Avoidance or alleviating options were common. Herbal remedies were more commonly used than prescription drugs. Current HRT use was highest among surgically menopausal women (21%); 8% of postmenopausal and less than 2% of perimenopausal women with symptoms were using HRT. Many women had sought information about symptom management. More than a third of women wanted more support about menopausal symptoms from their GP or practice nurse.
Conclusion: Following the publication of the WHI trial results, menopausal symptoms remain common and are often bothersome. Many women seek information about menopausal symptoms from healthcare professionals. Future studies should look beyond frequently researched management strategies, to consider other commonly used options, such as social support, strategies to reduce core body temperature and information about managing menopausal symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBJOG-An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Volume119
Issue number5
Early online date15 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

Keywords

  • community
  • hot flushes
  • management
  • menopause
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness

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