Defined as the cessation of menses for 12 consecutive months, menopause impacts 25 million women worldwide each year with an estimated 1.2 billion women to be postmenopausal by the year 2030! While menopause is an expected time of life and many women rejoice over the cessation of menses, the neuroendocrine fluctuations that accompany this transition are associated with additional concerns ranging in severity from merely annoying to severe, potentially disrupting quality of life.
While women may report weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, mood disturbances and more during their menopausal transition, hot flashes may be the most common associated concern, with 75% of women experiencing hot flashes at some point during the menopausal transition. Unfortunately, recent research demonstrates that vasomotor symptoms (VMS) such as hot flashes may not be short lived during these years with hot flashes lasting anywhere from 6 months to 14 years with an average duration at 7.4 years. Women who are pre or peri-menopausal at the onset of VMS experience the longest duration with a median duration of almost 12 years. In addition, this group experiences the longest persistence of VMS postmenopausally with a median of 9.4 years. Women who are postmenopausal at the onset of VMS may be considered the “lucky” ones as, this group is associated with the shortest duration of VMS, demonstrating an average of
3.4 years. African American women report the longest duration of VMS, with a median of over 10 years. While studies conclude that health care professionals should counsel women to expect frequent VMS may last more than 7 years, practical approaches, assessments and treatment plans are available.
While hot flashes and night sweats may be commonly associated with estrogen deficiency, progesterone insufficiency, or estrogen dominance, may be contributory or even causative. In addition neurotransmitter imbalances, particularly serotonin, play a role. Hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances are different in every woman, unique to her physiology, menopausal status, age and lifestyle. Assessing hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances is accurately and simply done with Neurohormone Complete and Complete Plus testing panels and may be essential to swiftly developing a successful treatment approach and restoring quality of life.
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The North American Menopause Society.
http://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/hot-flashes. Accessibility verified 2/16/15.
Avis, PhD et al. Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition. Jama Intern Med. Feb 16, 2015 (Epub ahead of print).
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