This week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner discusses Diversity in Menopause. Menopause can have a big impact on a woman’s long-term health, and outside factors such as genetics and race can also play a role in menopause.
Up to 80% of midlife women experience vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats) during the menopause transition. These symptoms can last for a number of years, and those who experience hot flashes early are also more likely to experience them for a longer time.
The SWAN Study began in 1996, observing over 3000 women of different ethnicities to study how women from various backgrounds experience menopause. They found that biology and ethnicity factor into how women experience menopause symptoms. Women of Color have the highest prevalence and longest duration and are most bothered by their vasomotor symptoms. Asian women have the lowest vasomotor symptom prevalence. Additionally, Women of Color tended to have hot flashes, on average, for 10+ years as compared to White women who experience hot flashes, on average, for 6 years.
Women who experience more frequent and intense hot flashes and night sweats at the menopause transition have an increased risk of heart attacks or stroke. In the SWAN Study, it was shown that Women of Color are more likely to enter midlife with a worse cardiometabolic profile (higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, etc.).
Jane* was 44 and started having hot flashes and night sweats to the point that it greatly impacted her sleep each night. She was also experiencing brain fog and frequent irritability and had gained an extra 20-30 pounds without being able to get the weight back off. All of the women in her family have diabetes, and a recent doctor’s visit confirmed she was also prediabetic. Jane was frustrated and just wanted her symptoms to stop.
Health Tip of the Week
All women deserve to have high-quality care during their menopause transition. It is important to speak up about the symptoms you are experiencing and not to suffer in silence. If you are experiencing symptoms like Jane, track your symptoms, seek treatment sooner rather than later, and get help from a certified menopause provider.
Watch the full segment.