By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: May 16, 2011
We just can’t seem to get away from the hot flash topic! It’s hot for a reason – so many of us suffer with them and often it feels like they continue forever. Well, we’re not alone. Contrary to previous assumptions that hot flashes usually last 4-5 years, a new study suggests that hot flashes may last an average of more than 10 years. Is it any wonder the menopause transition can play such a significant role in our lives?
This new study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that for women who reported hot flashes, those symptoms lasted an average of 11 and a half years. Moderate to severe hot flashes specifically went on for about 10 years on average. The study also found that found women who start getting hot flashes before menopause or in the early stages of menopause will have them for longer, on average, than women who don’t have their first hot flashes until later.
The research consisted of following a group of approximately 400 women ages 30-40+ who had not yet hit menopause at the start of the study in 1995. Over the next 13 years, the researchers interviewed the women each year to ask them questions about their health, including menopause symptoms. Only 55 of the women were completely free of hot flashes. Ninety of the women said they only had mild flashes, and the remaining 259 women reported moderate to severe hot flashes. Additional findings included noting that black women and normal weight women also reported having moderate to severe hot flashes at more of the annual interviews than white women and obese women.
Given that treatments might be needed for years on end, we are yet again faced with the question of what the best treatments are for hot flashes. Hormone therapy was a very common way to treat menopause symptoms until the Women’s Health Initiative study found that taking hormones may cause breast cancer and stroke. More recently, clinicians are recommending other medications including anti-depressants or behavioral changes to women to help combat their ongoing hot flashes. It is very clear that we need more safe and effective treatment options that can be used long term. In the meantime, we can find solace in the fact that we are in this together and can walk hand in hand down this long road of hot flashes.
Freeman, Ellen, and Mary Sammel. “Duration of Menopausal Hot Flushes and Associated Risk Factors.” Obstetrics& Gynecology 117.5 (2011): 1095-1104. Web. 16 May 2011. Website
More Information on Menopause and Hot Flashes