Objective: To measure hot flashes by sternal skin conductance in an urban Mexican population and to determine variables associated with hot flash reporting and measurement.
Design: From June 1999 to August 2000, 67 perimenopausal women aged 40 to 65 years participated in interviews, anthropometric measures, and a 2-h recording of sternal skin conductance. Changes in sweating were used to demonstrate the presence/absence of a hot flash. During the test, women were asked to report if they experienced a hot flash.
Results: During the study period, 10 women reported and demonstrated every hot flash, 24 women never reported or demonstrated a hot flash, 7 demonstrated hot flashes but did not report any of them, 7 reported hot flashes but did not demonstrate any of them, and 19 showed a mixture of responses. Women who demonstrated hot flashes by sternal skin conductance were measured in a warmer room, had more years of education, consumed more eggs as a child, recalled a heavier weight at age 18, and had a lower body mass index at interview compared with women who did not demonstrate hot flashes by sternal skin conductance. Women who subjectively reported hot flashes were measured in a warmer room, were more likely to be postmenopausal, reported more frequent consumption of coffee, and spent fewer months breast-feeding their last child compared with women who did not report the experience of hot flashes during the testing period.
Conclusion: Room temperature explained part of the variation between women who did and did not demonstrate hot flashes via sternal skin conductance, between women who did and did not report the experience of hot flashes, and between women who did and did not demonstrate concordance in objective and subjective measures. In addition to room temperature, coffee intake, months spent breast-feeding the last child, and recalled weight at age 18 were important variables predicting hot flash experience.
From the 1Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts; 2Wayne State University, School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan; 3Clinica de Climaterio y Osteoporosis, Puebla, Mexico; 4Department of Antropologia, Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico; 5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Received July 24, 2001; revised and accepted February 28, 2002.
This work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (#9805299) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
Address reprint requests to Lynnette Leidy Sievert, PhD, Department of Anthropology, Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003–4805. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.