Am J Med. 2005 Dec 19;118:14-24. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.09.031.
The American journal of medicine
Nancy Fugate Woods, Ellen Sullivan Mitchell
This article examines published evidence from longitudinal studies of the menopausal transition that address the following questions: (1) Which symptoms do women report during the perimenopause, and how prevalent are these symptoms as women traverse the menopausal transition? (2) How severe are symptoms and for how long do they persist? (3) To what do women attribute their symptoms, and do their attributions match findings from epidemiologic studies of community-based populations? (4) How significant are these symptoms in women's lives? Data from published longitudinal studies were examined for evidence bearing on each of these questions. Only vasomotor symptoms, vaginal dryness, and sleep disturbance symptoms varied in prevalence significantly across menopausal transition stages and postmenopause in >1 population studied. A minority of women report severe symptoms. Given the limited follow-up data available, it is unclear how long symptoms persist after menopause. Women attribute their symptoms to a variety of biologic and psychosocial factors, and their attributions correspond well to those correlates identified in epidemiologic studies of community-based populations. The significance of symptoms for women's lives remains uncertain. The impact of symptoms during the perimenopause on well-being, role performance, adaptation to demands of daily living, and quality of life warrants additional study. The appraisal of the consequences of perimenopausal symptoms by women from different ethnic groups will be enhanced significantly as a result of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) and other studies in progress.