Objective: Women are more affected than men by many chronic pain conditions, suggesting the effect of sex-related mechanisms in their occurrence. The role of gonadal hormones has been studied but with contrasting results depending on the pain syndrome, reproductive status, and hormone considered. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the pain changes related to the menopausal transition period.
Methods: In this observational study, postmenopausal women were asked to evaluate the presence of pain in their life during the premenopausal and postmenopausal periods and its modification with menopause.
Results: One hundred one women were enrolled and completed questionnaires on their sociodemographic status, pain characteristics, and evolution. The most common pain syndromes were headache (38%), osteoarticular pain (31%), and cervical/lumbar pain (21%). Pain was present before menopause in 66 women, ceased with menopause in 17, and started after menopause in 18. Data were used for cluster analysis, which allowed the division of participants into four groups. In the first, all women experienced headaches that disappeared or improved with menopause. The second group included osteoarticular pain; the pain improved in half of these women and remained stable in the other half. The third group had cervical/lumbar pain, which disappeared or improved with menopause in all. The fourth group presented different kinds of moderate pain, which worsened in all.
Conclusions: The present study provides preliminary data suggesting that menopause can affect pain depending on the painful condition experienced by the woman. This underlines the different interactions of menopause-related events with body structures involved in pain.
The present study provides preliminary data suggesting that menopause can affect pain depending on the painful condition experienced by the woman. This underlines the different interactions of menopause-related events with body structures involved in pain.
From the 1Interdepartmental Centre for Sexual Health Protection and Gynaecology and Physiopathology of Human Reproduction, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; 2Pain and Stress Neurophysiology Lab, Department of Physiology, University of Siena, Siena, Italy; and 3Neuroendocrinology Lab, San Carlo Clinic, Milano, Italy.
Received September 13, 2011; revised and accepted November 8, 2011.
Funding/support: The present study was funded by Progetti Di Ricerca Di Interesse Nazionale, a project of the Italian Ministry of Research and University (2008).
Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.