PMS Didn't Predict Hot Flashes During Menopause

Premenstrual symptoms did suggest some problems in menopause but hot flashes is not one of them

(RxWiki News) Since premenstrual symptoms often seem similar to menopausal symptoms, many women with premenstrual symptoms worry that they'll have an uncomfortable menopause, and particularly that they'll have hot flashes.

According to new research, women who had premenstrual syndrome (PMS) were not more likely than women who did not have PMS to have hot flashes in menopause.

PMS involves a number of symptoms women experience within two weeks before the start of their menstrual period. These symptoms, which can vary from month to month, include being tired or moody or having tender breasts.

Menopause is when a woman stops menstruating completely. Symptoms that can occur as a woman goes through menopause can include sleep problems and hot flashes.

"Speak to your doctor if you are troubled by PMS or menopausal symptoms."

The lead author of this study was Hanna Hautamäki, MD, of Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland.

The investigators enrolled 150 menopausal women for the study. Of these, 120 women had data on their PMS experiences. All of the 120 women were 48 to 55 years old and had become menopausal within the previous six to 36 months. 

Of the 120 women, 107 reported that they did have PMS when younger. The most common physical symptoms they had experienced were breast tenderness, headache, bloating and weight gain. Premenstrual symptoms had interfered with work, relationships, home responsibilities or social life activities in 64 women (53.3 percent).

For two weeks, the women recorded any hot flashes they experienced. Twenty-three women had no hot flashes, while 34 women said their hot flashes were mild, 30 reported hot flashes as moderate, and 63 women said their hot flashes were severe.

The researchers found there was no relationship between having had PMS — even moderate or severe PMS — and hot flashes in menopause.

The women filled out the Women’s Health Questionnaire, which asks 36 questions about menopause, including questions on sleep, hot flashes and depression.

Compared to women who did not have PMS, those who recalled having PMS were more likely to report impaired concentration and memory, depression, difficulty with sleep, and feeling less attractive now that they were menopausal.

The authors suggested that the autonomic nervous system may play a role in the symptoms of both PMS and menopause. The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that controls many of the bodily functions we don't actively control, like breathing and heart rate.

The researchers noted that further research is needed to determine why some symptoms a woman had in menopause seemed related to her experience with PMS.

Andre Hall, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Birth and Women’s Care in Fayetteville, North Carolina, told dailyRx News that women who have PMS and those who are menopausal share symptoms because of similar hormonal changes in their bodies.

"PMS is a condition in which women have a host of symptoms as a result of the hormonal changes that occur just prior to the onset of the menstrual cycle," Dr. Hall said. "During this period there is a significant drop in several hormonal levels. Like the timeframe just prior to the onset of the menses, the menopausal years are also characterized by low hormones thereby exhibiting similar symptoms.”

This study appeared in the May 21 online edition of Menopause.

The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 23, 2014