The Impact of Menopause: Survey Results
There are millions of women going through menopause who might not know exactly what is going on with their bodies and how it will affect different parts of their lives. In fact, many women, including my patients, only think of hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings when they begin menopause, and their experience with menopause symptoms can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on every aspect of women's lives.
The Menopause Impact Survey sponsored by Teva Women's Health Inc., measured the impact of menopause on women’s lives. They polled 2,500 women in the United States that have experienced or are experiencing menopausal symptoms. Results showed that over half of the women reported their menopause symptoms adversely affected their personal health and well-being (67%); sex life (58%) and relationship with their significant other (52%).
In my clinical experience I have seen women have a dozen hot flashes a day, often lasting a few minutes or more, as well as vaginal symptoms. It is no wonder symptomatic women report such an impact on their lives and relationships.
While my patients’ lives are filled with many important facets, including relationships, family and career, women were more surprised by the impact of menopause on their sex life than any other aspect. The survey found that more than one-third of women reported that their sex life has been impacted by menopause more than they expected. More than one-quarter of women in committed relationships say their menopause symptoms caused pain with sex, and two-thirds of women experienced low-energy, fatigue and sleep disturbances.
The survey shows that younger women (45-55) were often impacted by vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, while older women were more likely to report feeling the negative impact of vaginal symptoms on their sexual relationships. The transition into menopause begins when women cease to produce adequate levels of estrogen. Symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are more common at the beginning stages, and for most women, will subside over time. However, as estrogen continues to decline women will, if left untreated, experience more severe vaginal dryness and atrophy, which can lead to pain with sex. This varied spectrum of symptoms shows the need for women to partner with their healthcare provider in order to find the appropriate treatment.
Menopause symptoms often affect a woman's confidence and her self-esteem. The survey showed, in particular, that 87% of women experience anxiety, depression and mood swings, which then affects their relationships, family life and career.
The survey highlighted the importance of women speaking with their healthcare provider to discuss treatment options that are right for them. A majority felt unprepared as they entered the menopause, it was occurring earlier than they anticipated, and they lacked adequate information regarding this critical time in their lives. The Menopause Impact Tool is a simple questionnaire which I assisted in creating to facilitate this dialogue. Women are encouraged to visit www.CopeWithMenopause.com to use the tool and print a one-page analysis to share with their healthcare provider.
Written Dr. David Portman
Director, Columbus Center for Women’s Health Research