NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Persistent hot flashes and night sweats into the late postmenopausal years may occur but they are not common, according to new research.
"Hot flashes are among the most frequent complaints of women during the menopausal transition," Dr. Alison J. Huang, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues write in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "In most women, hot flashes resolve within a few years of menopause, but some women report symptoms for many years after they cease to menstruate."
The researchers looked into this in a study involving 3167 older postmenopausal women. They were 67 years old on average, and the average time since menopause was 19 years. Huang's group looked for characteristics associated with hot flashes at the start of the study and after 3 years of follow-up.
Initially, 375 (11.8 percent) women reported bothersome hot flushes. Symptoms were more likely to occur in women who had less education, had more recently begun menopause, had undergone hysterectomy, or had previously used estrogen.
Hot flashes were also linked with higher body mass index, vaginal dryness, and trouble sleeping.
Three years later, data were available for 278 of the 375 women. More than half of them still had persistent symptoms. Independent predictors of continuing hot flashes included fewer years since menopause and trouble sleeping.
"Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms underlying the relationship of educational status, obesity, hysterectomy, vaginal symptoms, and trouble sleeping to hot flashes in this population," Huang's team concludes.