Factors associated with reporting classic menopausal symptoms differ

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Objectives To investigate how symptoms experienced in midlife cluster and to identify factors independently associated with hot flushes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Methods A questionnaire was sent to 8206 women aged 45-54 years, recruited from family practices in north-east Scotland, UK. Using data collected about 23 symptoms, we conducted factor analysis for premenopausal, perimenopausal, postmenopausal and surgically menopausal women. Forward stepwise logistic regression was used to identify sociodemographic, lifestyle and psychological variables independently associated with the classic menopausal symptoms. Results Overall, 4407 women responded. Hot flushes were experienced by 46.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) 45.2-48.2) of women, night sweats by 46.4% (95% CI 44.9-47.9) and vaginal dryness by 28.2% (95% CI 26.9-29.6). Seven factors including 20 symptoms emerged from factor analysis. Hot flushes were associated with: being perimenopausal or postmenopausal; low education; obesity; low social support; reporting night sweats, musculoskeletal, bloating, menstrual and sexual symptoms; using complementary alternative medicines, lifestyle (e.g. exercising) or psychological management strategies (e.g. talking to family or friends) for menopausal symptoms. Night sweats were associated with: lower body weight; smoking; possible depression; reporting sleep difficulties, hot flushes and sexual symptoms; using lifestyle strategies for menopausal symptoms. Vaginal dryness was associated with: being postmenopausal; high education; high social support; below average physical health, reporting hot flushes, somatic symptoms and decreased sexual interest; using psychological or lifestyle strategies for menopausal symptoms. Conclusion It is important to investigate each classic menopausal symptom separately. Combining menopausal symptoms into categories such as vasomotor symptoms may lead to inaccurate conclusions about variables associated with these symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-251
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Early online date19 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • community
  • menopause
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness


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