Objective: The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of symptoms associated with the menopausal transition and early postmenopause on quality of life and to determine if there is a clustering of symptoms that has a larger effect on quality of life than individual symptoms.
Methods: This study used data from a cross-sectional study on women aged 45 to 60 years. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to analyze the data.
Results: More than 60% of the participants reported three or more symptoms. The symptom clusters that had the highest impact on quality of life were sleep disturbances and vaginal dryness, which accounted for 9.7% of the variance in quality-of-life scores. A parsimonious model of individual symptoms, including sleep disturbances, fatigue, and anxiety, accounted for 16.7% of the variance in quality of life. This group of symptoms, not represented by a cluster, had the highest impact on quality of life.
Conclusions: The symptoms found to most significantly affect quality of life are sleep disturbances, fatigue, and anxiety, suggesting that appropriate management of sleep disorders and anxiety may be beneficial to women undergoing the transition to postmenopause. Unanticipated clusters of symptoms point toward a unique symptom experience influenced by factors other than a decline in ovarian function. In this study, symptoms commonly associated with the menopausal transition and early postmenopause negatively affect quality of life; however, the results indicate that quality of life in midlife women is affected by these symptoms only to a small extent.