How common are intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and posttraumatic stress among midlife and older women, and are these exposures associated with women’s experience of menopause?
In this cross-sectional analysis of a cohort of midlife and older women, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder were common. Emotional intimate partner violence and posttraumatic stress were associated with sleep-related, vasomotor, and vaginal symptoms; physical intimate partner violence was associated with night sweats; and sexual assault was associated with vaginal symptoms.
Intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder may be associated with the development and experience of menopause symptoms.
Little is known about the prevalence of traumatic exposures among midlife and older women and the association of these traumatic exposures with health issues.
To examine the associations of intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault, and posttraumatic stress with menopause symptoms among midlife and older women.
Design, Setting, and Participants
A cross-sectional analysis of data from a multiethnic cohort of 2016 women 40 to 80 years of age in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system was conducted from November 15, 2008, to March 30, 2012. Statistical analysis was conducted from June 8, 2016, to September 6, 2017.
Lifetime physical or emotional IPV, sexual assault, and current symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, assessed with standardized questionnaires.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Difficulty sleeping, vasomotor symptoms, and vaginal symptoms, assessed with standardized questionnaires.
Among the 2016 women enrolled, the mean (SD) age was 60.5 (9.5) years, and 792 of 2011 with race/ethnicity data (39.4)% were non-Latina white (403 [20.0%] Latina, 429 [21.3%] black, and 387 [19.2%] Asian). Lifetime emotional IPV was reported by 423 women (21.0%), lifetime physical IPV was reported by 316 women (15.7%), sexual assault was reported by 382 women (18.9%), and 450 of 2000 women (22.5%) had current clinically significant symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. In multivariable analyses adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, educational level, body mass index, menopause status, hormone therapy, and parity, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder were associated with difficulty sleeping (odds ratio [OR], 3.02; 95% CI, 2.22-4.09), vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes: OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.34-2.12; night sweats: OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.37-2.15), and vaginal symptoms (vaginal dryness: OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.37-2.18; vaginal irritation: OR, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.66-2.93; pain with intercourse: OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.57-2.98). Emotional IPV was associated with difficulty sleeping (OR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.09-1.71), night sweats (OR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.19-1.89), and pain with intercourse (OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.14-2.25). Physical IPV was associated with night sweats (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.03-1.72). Sexual assault was associated with vaginal symptoms (vaginal dryness: OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.10-1.82; vaginal irritation: OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.04-1.95; pain with intercourse: OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.00-2.06).
Conclusions and Relevance
Lifetime history of IPV or sexual assault and current clinically significant symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder are common and are associated with menopause symptoms. These findings highlight the need for greater recognition of these exposures by clinicians caring for midlife and older women.
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Gibson CJ, Huang AJ, McCaw B, Subak LL, Thom DH, Van Den Eeden SK. Associations of Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder With Menopause Symptoms Among Midlife and Older Women. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(1):80–87. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5233
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