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Effects of reproductive history on symptoms of menopause: a brief report

Nelson, Deborah B. PhD1; Sammel, Mary D. ScD2; Patterson, Freda PhD3; Lin, Hui MS4; Gracia, Clarisa R. MD5; Freeman, Ellen W. PhD6

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318214d69d
Brief Report

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between reproductive history and menopausal symptoms among urban women.

Methods: This was a cohort study of women aged 35 to 47 years recruited in Philadelphia, PA. Two hundred ninety-one premenopausal women meeting the study eligibility criteria and contributing reproductive health history and infertility information completed the assessments of occurrence and severity of several menopausal symptoms over a 14-year period. Reproductive history included the number of pregnancies, live births, preterm deliveries, and miscarriages. Trying to get pregnant for more than 1 year was used as an assessment of infertility. The occurrence of severe hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and decreased libido was evaluated.

Results: Women scoring positive on the infertility index were significantly more likely to report severe decreased libido (odds ratio [OR], 1.86; 95% CI, 1.05-3.31) and were more than twice as likely to report severe vaginal dryness (OR, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.19-6.94) in multivariable models. None of the other reproductive health indices were related to the report of severe hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or decreased libido. The race-specific models continued to find a significant increased risk of severe vaginal dryness (OR, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.22-6.36) and decreased libido (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.04-3.34) among white women scoring positive on the infertility index; however, the relationship did not remain significant among African American women.

Conclusions: Severe vaginal dryness and decreased libido are common and important considerations of the menopausal transition, and the experience of infertility problems may influence the report of severe vaginal dryness and decreased libido particularly among white women.

Severe vaginal dryness and decreased libido are common and important considerations of the menopausal transition. The experience of infertility problems may increase the report of severe vaginal dryness and decreased libido particularly among white women.

Received December 21, 2010; revised and accepted February 8, 2011.

From the 1Department of Public Health and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; 2Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; 3Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; 4Center for Research in Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; 5Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; and 6Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Funding/support: E.W.F. was supported by Grant R01-AG-12745.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Deborah B. Nelson, PhD, Department of Public Health, College of Health Professions and Social Work, Ritter Annex, Room 905, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122. E-mail: dnelson@temple.edu

©2011The North American Menopause Society