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Age and symptom experience at menopause in the Selška Valley, Slovenia

Sievert, Lynnette Leidy PhD1; Vidovič, Maruška PhD2; Horak, Helena BS1; Abel, Marge PhD3

doi: 10.1097/01.GME.0000087982.28957.14

Objective To assess age and symptom experience at menopause in a high-altitude population in the Selška Valley of Slovenia.

Design In four mountain villages, all houses were approached and 80% of eligible residents were interviewed. Additional women were interviewed for comparison in the valley below. Age at interview ranged from 32.7 to 85.5 years, with a mean of 58.2 years. The majority of women (62%) were aged 40 to 65 years.

Results Of the 58 women interviewed, 7 had undergone menopause by hysterectomy (12%). Recalled age at natural menopause ranged from 42 to 54, with a mean of 50.3 (SD 2.9). By probit analysis, median age at natural menopause was 52.03. Fifty-five percent of participants reported ever having experienced a hot flash, although only 24% reported hot flashes during the 2 weeks before being interviewed. When the sample was limited to women aged 40 to 65, frequency of hot flashes in the 2 weeks before the interview was 39%. For all participants, the most frequent complaint was lack of energy (66%), followed by backaches (59%), and joint stiffness (53%).

Conclusions In contrast to expectations, age at menopause was not earlier and hot flash frequency was not significantly lower at higher elevations.

From the 1Department of Anthropology and the 3University Without Walls, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA; and the 2Institute of Public Health, Republic of Slovenia.

Received February 19, 2003; revised and accepted July 2, 2003.

Funding for this project was provided by Indramat, Zelezniki; Embalazno-Grafično Podjetje, Škofja Loka; Niko, ZeleznikiZavod Za Zdravstveno Varstvo, Celje; Sanolabor, Ljubljana; Merkator, Škofja Loka.

Address correspondence to: Lynnette Leidy Sievert, Department of Anthropology, Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003-9278. E-mail:

©2004The North American Menopause Society