By: Hannah Clark for Fibroids1
In case women going through menopause need something else to worry about, a new study shows that worrying itself can increase the severity of menopause symptoms.
Just a few months ago, researchers reported that smoking and obesity can make menopause more difficult. The new study, which focused on anxiety, adds to the growing body of evidence that lifestyle factors, like weight and stress, play a large role in menopausal symptoms.
The anxiety article was published in the latest issue of Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Hot heads = Increased Hot Flashes
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, found that women with moderate anxiety were three times more likely to report hot flashes as women with normal levels of anxiety. Women with high anxiety were five times as likely to experience hot flashes. Hot flashes in anxious women were also more severe than those in women with normal anxiety levels.
But the authors said more research is needed to determine whether anti-anxiety medications will also ease the discomfort of hot flashes.
In an editorial that accompanied the study, Dr. Nancy Fugate Woods said the findings merit serious scientific attention.
“Sorting out the underlying mechanisms and initiating an intervention with the least risk and greatest benefit poses a significant challenge for clinicians and the women in their care,” Dr. Woods wrote.
The editorial noted that a web of complex factors influences the severity of menopause symptoms. Low incomes, less formal education, and difficulty paying for basic needs make hot flashes harsher. And women who have negative attitudes towards menopause also have more severe symptoms than those who view it positively.
Women who smoke or carry extra weight also experience more frequent, more severe hot flashes, according to a study published in the February issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. But the study’s authors don’t know whether losing weight or quitting smoking could ease symptoms once menopause has already started.
Do all these studies make you feel, well, anxious? Head to your local bar. Researchers at the University of Illinois are studying whether beer can reduce the symptoms of menopause. The university has a center that conducts research on how plant products could be used to improve women’s health. One of the first 10 supplements the center is studying: humulus lupulus, otherwise known as hops.