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Invited Commentary
April 2015

Vasomotor Symptom Duration in Midlife Women—Research Overturns Dogma

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Little Rock
  • 2Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Copyright 2015 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):540-541. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8099

Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) affect up to 80% of menopausal women and are the most common reason these women seek treatment. Approximately 60% of midlife women seek medical care or advice at least once because of VMS,1 which adversely affect quality of life in domains that include work, social and leisure activities, and sexual health.2 Previous research from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN)2,3 demonstrated that having VMS at least 6 days in the previous 2 weeks was highly associated with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, quality-of-life impairment, cardiovascular risks, and poorer bone health. Despite the high prevalence of VMS among midlife women, surprisingly little research has been done on the underlying etiology, individual differences in symptom presentation, sociodemographic and clinical correlates, or duration of symptoms. Early publications reported the duration of VMS to be generally less than 2 years,4 whereas recent evidence (eg, the study by Avis et al5 in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine) suggests that the mean duration of symptoms is considerably longer. The findings from recent studies underscore the limitations of the earlier evidence base on VMS that has guided clinical practice for many decades.4

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