Symptom reports from a cohort of African American and white women in the late reproductive years


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo identify symptoms experienced in a cohort of healthy women in the late reproductive years; to compare symptom reports between African American and Caucasian women; and to determine the extent to which other factors in reproductive health, mood and behavior, lifestyle, and demographic background are associated with the reported symptoms.DesignA cohort of women aged 35 to 47 years (mean age, 41 years) was identified through random digit dialing. This study is a cross-sectional analysis of data collected at enrollment from a subset of 308 women who completed daily symptom reports (DSR) for one menstrual cycle. Data were obtained in structured interviews and self-administered standard questionnaires. The associations of the study variables with symptoms as assessed by the DSR were examined using analysis of variance and general linear models.ResultsThe African American women were significantly more likely to report in interview that they experienced menopausal symptoms (46% vs. 30%;p < 0.001) and had significantly higher ratings on the physiological symptom factor of the DSR, which included hot flashes, dizziness, poor coordination/clumsiness, urine leaks, and vaginal dryness. The DSR yielded two other factors of psychological and somatic symptoms. Race was associated only with the physiological symptom factor in the multivariable analyses. Neither race nor age were associated with psychological symptoms, which were predicted by current or past mood problems.ConclusionsSymptoms commonly associated with the menopause are experienced in the late reproductive years before observable changes in menstrual cycles. African American women reported more physiological symptoms than white women. These data provide an essential baseline for longitudinal study of symptoms associated with the ovarian decline in the perimenopausal years.

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