Conventional wisdom on hot flashes, menopause questioned

Survey finds many women had hot flashes before menopause-File Photo
Survey finds many women had hot flashes before menopause-File Photo

Seattle, Wash. - Doctors and researchers may reconsider some of what they know about hot flashes and menopause.

Researchers at the University of Washington found that more than half of the women they surveyed started having hot flashes and night sweats before menopause.

Usually associated with menopause, hot flashes and night sweats occur when hormone changes cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to open rapidly. Doctors say women with regular menstrual cycles should have enough estrogen to stave off hot flashes. But, Dr. Susan Reed who studies women's mid-life health at the University of Washington, says doctors may have to reevaluate that idea.

Reed and her coauthors sent questionnaires to 18,500 women between 45 and 56. About half responded. Of the 1,500 women who still had regular cycles, 55 percent reported having experienced a hot flash or night sweat. Those women were not taking medications such as hormone replacements or antibiotics.

The findings were published in the journal, Menopause. The study was funded by a pharmaceutical company which is developing a compound that may mimic estrogen and could be a potential treatment for menopausal symptoms.