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Risk factors for night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study

Herber-Gast, Gerrie-Cor M. PhD1; Mishra, Gita D. PhD1; van der Schouw, Yvonne T. PhD2; Brown, Wendy J. PhD3; Dobson, Annette J. PhD1

doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e3182844a7c
Original Articles

Objective This study aims to identify social, lifestyle, and reproductive history risk factors for night sweats (NS) only, hot flushes (HF) only, and both NS and HF.

Methods Risk factors and symptoms among 10,454 participants of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health who were aged 45 to 50 years in 1996 were measured at baseline and 3-year intervals (surveys 2-6) for 15 years. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results Compared with neither symptom, both symptoms together were reported less often by highly educated women (odds ratio, 0.61; 99.9% CI, 0.50-0.74), but more often by women who were heavier (odds ratio, 1.23; 99.9% CI, 1.08-1.40), were current smokers (odds ratio, 1.31; 99.9% CI, 1.09-1.56), were high-risk drinkers (odds ratio, 1.44; 99.9% CI, 1.10-1.89), were perimenopausal (odds ratio, 6.57; 99.9% CI, 5.52-7.82) or postmenopausal (odds ratio, 4.74; 99.9% CI, 4.00-5.63), had gained weight (odds ratio, 1.15; 99.9% CI, 1.01-1.31), or had premenstrual tension (odds ratio, 1.86; 99.9% CI, 1.48-2.34), than by women without these characteristics. HF only was reported less often by highly educated women (odds ratio, 0.73; 99.9% CI, 0.59-0.90), but more often by perimenopausal (odds ratio, 3.58; 99.9% CI, 2.95-4.35) or postmenopausal (odds ratio, 2.97; 99.9% CI, 2.47-3.57) women and by those with premenstrual tension (odds ratio, 1.60; 99.9% CI, 1.25-2.04). Finally, NS only was reported more often among current smokers (odds ratio, 1.55; 99.9% CI, 1.11-2.19), high-risk drinkers (odds ratio, 1.76; 99.9% CI, 1.04-2.97), perimenopausal women (odds ratio, 1.53; 99.9% CI, 1.14-2.06), those with diabetes (odds ratio, 1.91; 99.9% CI, 1.08-3.35), those with premenstrual tension (odds ratio, 1.67; 99.9% CI, 1.09-2.56), or those of early age at first pregnancy (odds ratio, 1.45; 99.9% CI, 1.05-1.99).

Conclusions The presence of both symptoms is associated with social, behavioral, and menstrual factors. Some differences in risk factors among women who report only one symptom or both symptoms are observed, suggesting a slightly different etiology for each.

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From the 1School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; 2Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and 3School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Received November 26, 2012; revised and accepted December 20, 2012.

Funding/support: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health was conceived and developed by groups of interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland and was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. G.C.M.H.G. and G.D.M. were supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Center of Research Excellence (grant APP1000986).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

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Address correspondence to: Gerrie-Cor M. Herber-Gast, PhD, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia. E-mail:

© 2013 by The North American Menopause Society.