Wednesday bubble: age ain’t nothing but a…

Posted by on Jun 10, 2009 in hot flash, menopause, nightsweats | 2 comments



Sometimes it is just that. And sometimes it’s not.

Confused yet? I certainly am.

Australian researchers suggest that many of the more common complaints of menopause may be possibly related to aging in general and not specifically the transition. In fact, in a study presented during last month’s 8th European Congress on Menopause, they reported that menopause is strongly associated with some but not other common complaints.

So what about the other symptoms? After reviewing data from 58,724 women (ages 45 to 50) participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, the strongest associations were seen between menopause and hot flashes/night sweats. These findings remained after adjusting for age during the study, age at menopause, smoking history, body mass index, sociodemographics (i.e. education, income, marital status and geographic location) and other factors that might influence outcomes. Other symptoms, including difficulty sleeping, stiff/painful joints and poor or fair self-reported health were also associated with menopause but to a much lesser extent. Headaches, migraines and incontinence appeared to be more strongly related to the aging process.

The researchers say that treatment (in this case, HRT) should be geared primarily towards alleviating vasomotor symptoms. Less clear, however, is how long therapy should be continued, since some symptoms can last for more than seven years. This study is scheduled to appear in Menopause.

Last September, I wrote a post about a survey being reported at the North American Menopause Society’s Annual meeting suggesting that women can actually discern the symptoms of menopause from those of aging.  Interestingly, many of the symptoms overlapped; in fact, 84%, 72%, and 77% of respondents associated vaginal dryness, urinary stress incontinence and weight gain, respectively, strictly with menopause, even though they can also be caused by aging as well.

So, what’s the primary point? It can be difficult to tease apart the effects of aging and the effects of menopause. Clearly, these new Australian data add a bit more to the confusion, and reinforce the point that more research and funding is needed in this particular area.

In the interim, I am just as happy to blame the ‘pause for my symptoms as I am to blame age. And equally as happy to take positive steps to overcome some of the more troublesome effects of the transition, regardless of whether it is a direct effect of menopause or not.

All in all, a good thing, right?


  1. 6-10-2009

    Very interesting.
    I love this site; thanks!

    • 6-10-2009

      Maureen – thanks for being such a loyal reader!


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