To assess age and symptom experience at menopause in a high-altitude population in the Selška Valley of Slovenia.
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.
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%).
In contrast to expectations, age at menopause was not earlier and hot flash frequency was not significantly lower at higher elevations.