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Past reproductive events as predictors of physical symptom severity during the menopausal transition

Stone, Suzanne E. PhD, CPsych; Mazmanian, Dwight PhD, CPsych; Oinonen, Kirsten A. PhD, CPsych; Sharma, Verinder MB, FRCP(C)

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e31827e18b8
Original Articles

Objective This study aims to determine whether the severity of physical symptoms experienced during perimenopause can be predicted by physical symptoms experienced during past reproductive events (ie, symptoms experienced during pregnancy, the postpartum period, the premenstrual phase, and hormonal contraceptive use).

Methods Two hundred ninety perimenopausal and postmenopausal women completed a series of questionnaires pertaining to their menopausal symptoms and the severity of both physical and emotional symptoms experienced during past reproductive events.

Results The severity of some physical symptoms experienced during past reproductive events predicted the severity of menopausal physical symptoms. Some symptoms experienced during the premenstrual phase (ie, pain, lack of concentration, and water retention) and physical symptoms experienced during pregnancy were the best unique predictors of menopausal physical symptoms.

Conclusions The findings suggest that women with a history of more severe physical symptoms during periods of both low (ie, premenstrual phase) and high (ie, pregnancy) hormone exposure are at greatest risk for experiencing severe physical symptoms during the perimenopausal transition.

This retrospective study investigates the extent to which physical symptoms experienced during past reproductive events (eg, the premenstrual phase, pregnancy, postpartum, etc) are associated with subsequent physical symptom severity during the menopausal transition.

From the 1Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay; 2Regional Mental Health Care London, and 3Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.

Received September 25, 2012; revised and accepted November 14, 2012.

Some of the work presented here was based on a PhD dissertation submitted by S.E.S. to Lakehead University.

S.E.S. is now with Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada).

Portions of these findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto, June 2011.

Funding/support: V.S. has received consulting fees and lecture payments from BMS, Lundbeck, and AstraZeneca, and has received grant funding from BMS. None of these activities were related to the content of the current manuscript.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: S.E.S. received a Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to conduct this research.

Address correspondence to: Dwight Mazmanian, PhD, CPsych, Department of Psychology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada P7B 5E1. E-mail:

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.