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BJOG. 2012 Apr;119(5):554-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2012.03276.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

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

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1
Academic Primary Care, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the frequency and management of menopausal symptoms among community-dwelling women.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

SETTING:

Northeast Scotland.

POPULATION:

Women aged 45-54 years 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 8206 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 bothersome 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 hormone replacement therapy use was highest among surgically menopausal women (21%); 8% of postmenopausal and <2% of perimenopausal women with symptoms were using hormone replacement therapy. Many women had sought information about symptom management. More than one-third of women wanted more support about menopausal symptoms from their general practitioner or practice nurse.

CONCLUSION:

Following the publication of the Women's Health Initiative 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.

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