When most of us hear about hot flashes and night sweats, we tend to immediately think of menopause — and unconsciously assume that those nuisances go away after "the change." But as it turns out, these symptoms can actually last long after midlife has passed, according to a new study. We know this research may sound pretty bleak at first, but the good news is that it gives you an opportunity to prepare, as well as a chance to learn how to approach your doctor if this happens to you.
The May 2018 study published in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society found that hot flashes and night sweats can sometimes last well into a woman's 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 5,000 women and found that a "significant" amount of women over 60 years old still experienced those pesky symptoms commonly associated with menopause. But here's where things start looking up: These women are actively seeking medical help for the issues, which may have been left totally unaddressed and untreated decades ago before scientists knew about them.
"The number of women in the study who both reported and sought care for symptom management shines a light on what may be an unmet medical need for women over age 60," said study author Paru David, MD, in a press release. "With increased awareness, clinicians can identify these distressing symptoms and review treatment options with women, which can lead to improved quality of life."
Another piece of positive news from the research: The scientists also found that women in the study who used hormone therapy were less likely to report moderate to severe menopause symptoms. For some women — especially those younger than 60 — this could be a potential option to ward off those aggravating flashes and sweats later on in life. That said, there may be some individualized risks for this type of treatment for certain women. Always talk to a trusted medical professional before trying hormone therapy for menopause — or any menopause treatment, for that matter.
The researchers recommend that any woman in her 60s, 70s, or 80s still experiencing menopause symptoms talk to her doctor about finding a treatment plan and relief that works for her. Whether that includes hormone therapy or something totally different, you deserve to have the best quality of life possible — especially as you head into your golden years.