OBJECTIVE: This study aims to determine the prevalence and severity of menopausal symptoms in older postmenopausal women and, hence, the need for treatment options for women of this age.
METHODS: This is a cross-sectional questionnaire-based study conducted between October 2013 and March 2014 among 2,020 women aged 40 to 65 years and living independently across Australia. The main outcome measures were the prevalence of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (VMS), as measured by the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire, and the current use of prescription therapy for menopausal symptoms.
RESULTS: The prevalence of moderate to severe VMS was as follows: 2.8% in premenopausal women, 17.1% in perimenopausal women, 28.5% in postmenopausal women younger than 55 years, 15.1% in postmenopausal women aged 55 to 59 years, and 6.5% in postmenopausal women aged 60 to 65 years. Prescription therapy for menopausal symptoms was used by 135 women: 120 (5.9%) women using hormone therapy and 15 (0.7%) women using nonhormonal medication. The factors positively associated with moderate to severe VMS were smoking (odds ratio, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3; P < 0.05) and a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 kg/m (odds ratio, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1-2.5; P < 0.05); education beyond high school was inversely associated (odds ratio, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-0.9; P < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: In this large, representative, community-based sample of women, there is a high prevalence of untreated moderate to severe VMS even in women aged 60 to 65 years. The use of vaginal estrogen and nonhormonal prescription therapy with proven efficacy for treatment of menopausal symptoms is strikingly low, suggesting that menopause remains an undertreated condition.