Presence of young children at home may moderate development of hot flashes during the menopausal transition

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Abstract

Objective

This work aims to determine the role of child care in hot flashes. Broad differences in vasomotor symptom experience are observed among perimenopausal women across cultures. Women in cultures where contact with young children is common report significantly fewer and less severe hot flashes than women in cultures where older women spend less time around children. Could these differences be related to the presence of young children?

Methods

We surveyed 117 healthy women undergoing prophylactic bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries to reduce the risk of gynecologic cancers). Participants provided demographic information, including pre–surgical operation menopause status and number of children (younger than 13 y, 13-17 y, and 18 y or older) living at home. They were surveyed for menopausal symptoms 2 weeks before surgical operation and at 2 months, 6 months, and 1 year after surgical operation.

Results

Women who were premenopausal at the time of surgical operation experienced a significant increase in vasomotor symptoms. Within this group, participants with young children at home reported significantly fewer vasomotor symptoms across time than did women who did not live with young children. Women who were already menopausal at the time of surgical operation who had young children at home reported more vasomotor symptoms before surgical operation than did those without young children; however, this effect did not remain significant across follow-ups.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that interactions with young children may mitigate hot flashes in women undergoing surgical menopause. These findings may be used to counsel women who are considering prophylactic oophorectomy about the likelihood of menopausal symptoms.

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