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The impact of menopause on vocal quality

D'haeseleer, Evelien MSc1; Depypere, Herman MD, PhD2; Claeys, Sofie MD, PhD1; Wuyts, Floris L. PhD3; De Ley, Sophia MSc1; Van Lierde, Kristiane M. PhD1

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181f3ee36
Original Articles
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Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure and describe the effect of menopause on vocal characteristics by comparing premenopausal and postmenopausal women (not taking hormone therapy [HT]).

Methods: Thirty-eight postmenopausal women (mean age, 58 y) not taking HT participated in the study. The control group consisted of 34 premenopausal women (mean age, 48 y). To determine the vocal characteristics in both groups, objective (aerodynamic measurements, vocal range measurements, acoustic analysis, electroglottography, and a determination of the Dysphonia Severity Index) and subjective (perceptual evaluation, videostroboscopic evaluation, and Voice Handicap Index) assessment techniques were used.

Results: Postmenopausal women showed a good overall vocal quality, with a Dysphonia Severity Index value of 3.3. Significant differences in aerodynamic parameters (vital capacity and phonation quotient), vocal range (lowest frequency), and acoustic parameters (fundamental frequency [F0] during reading, variation of F0, F0 tremor intensity index, and amplitude tremor intensity index) were found between the premenopausal and postmenopausal women. However, when controlling for age, only phonation quotient and F0 during reading were significantly lower in the group of postmenopausal women. For the perceptual evaluation, significant differences in grade of dysphonia, breathiness, and strained vocal quality were found.

Conclusions: Postmenopausal women not taking HT had a good overall vocal quality. However, in comparison with premenopausal women, they showed a lower habitual F0 in continuous speech.

From the Departments of 1Otorhinolaryngology, Logopaedic, and Audiologic Sciences and 2Gynaecology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; and 3Department of Biomedical Physics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.

Received April 27, 2010; revised and accepted July 19, 2010.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Evelien D'haeseleer, MSc, Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Speech and Language Pathology, GE 19, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 2P1, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. E-mail: Evelien.Dhaeseleer@Ugent.be

©2011The North American Menopause Society