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Hot flushes are not the worst symptom of menopause

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Sleep deprivation, rather than hot flushes, are the most troublesome aspect of the menopause, US nurse research has found.

Researchers asked 110 women, average age 49, entering the menopause about their symptoms. None were taking hormonal treatments.

Sleep difficulties, forgetfulness and irritability were the three most frequently perceived symptoms, followed by hot flushes. Subjects also rated severity of symptoms. Again, sleep difficulties came out top followed by night sweats and irritability.

The findings revealed that some symptoms changed in frequency as women moved through the menopause but sleep problems did not.

The study might help nurses to better prepare women who do not want hormonal treatments for the changes they can expect, the authors said.

‘This underlines the importance of talking to women about the severity of symptoms and the distress they cause as well as how frequently they occur,’ said lead author Judith Berg, associate professor at Arizona University’s college of nursing.

Journal of Clinical Nursing (2008) 17: 940-948

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