Doctors used to tell women they’d be done with hot flashes and other troublesome menopausal symptoms within a couple of years, but new research offers a more disturbing and accurate answer.
In a 17-year-long study of women’s health across the nation, scientists collected data from more than 3,000 women going through menopause. Nearly half of the women suffered from severe vasomotor symptoms, doctor-speak for horrible hot flashes and nasty night sweats.
Seven Long Years
The investigators found that the average duration of these uncomfortable symptoms was more than seven years. African-American women suffered longer, on average, than others (about 10 years), and women whose hot flashes began while they were still having periods also had to struggle longer, for nearly 12 years. A few women had hot flashes for more than 13 years.
The authors point out that the usual advice to keep treatment of hot flashes to the shortest possible period of time is not very helpful when symptoms are likely to last around 7 years, if not longer.
Women deserve better options to help them cope with these symptoms than are currently available. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is effective at quelling hot flashes, but it increases the risk for cardiovascular complications as well as breast and ovarian cancer. Brisdelle (paroxetine) is being heavily advertised as the only non-hormonal treatment FDA has approved for hot flashes. While this is true, Brisdelle has its own drawbacks, as we have detailed.
For ideas on herbs and other non-drug approaches to bothersome symptoms, we offer our Guide to Menopause.