Older women who suffer abuse may have more severe menopause symptoms, a new Mayo Clinic study suggests.
In particular, researchers found a strong correlation with verbal and emotional abuse and menopause-related problems.
The study included more than 3,700 women who provided information about symptoms they experienced when their monthly periods ended. These included hot flashes and night sweats, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, bowel/bladder problems, and thinking and memory problems.
The women also reported any physical, sexual and emotional/verbal abuse. About 7 percent had suffered at least one form of abuse within the previous year. Of those, verbal/emotional abuse was reported most often (97 percent), followed by physical abuse (13 percent) and sexual abuse (4 percent), the researchers say.
Compared to those who did not suffer abuse, women who reported any type of abuse had higher average menopause symptom scores and higher scores for each of the menopause symptoms, with the exception of hot flashes and nights sweats, according to the study authors.
“We found that those reporting abuse in the last year had higher mean total MSB (menopausal symptom bother) scores and higher scores for each of the identified menopause symptoms with the exception of hot flashes and night sweats,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the Mayo Clinic Office of Women’s Health. “In particular, we found a strong correlation with verbal and emotional abuse.”
However, the researchers only found an association between abuse and menopause symptoms, and not a cause-and-effect link.
The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society in Las Vegas. The results should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
“This study highlights the need for health care providers to find ways to allow and encourage women to report abuse,” Dr. Wulf Utian, executive director of the menopause society, said in a society news release.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about menopause.