Objectives: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has become a popular topic and the subject of many newspaper and magazine health articles in the last 5 years in Taiwan, so a great deal of knowledge about the menopause has been introduced to Taiwanese women. With this massive change, we wanted to know the current perception of the menopause among women in Taiwan and also evaluate the prevalence of various acute menopausal symptoms and women's attitudes toward receiving hormone replacement therapy.
Methods: We designed a cross-sectional study, using structured questionnaires, targeting women who attended the health information seminar on the menopause and HRT, held in an urban area in Taiwan. The audience was asked to fill out the questionnaire before the seminar began. More than 2000 questionnaires were collected, but only 386 women completed all items of the questionnaire and were included in this study. Among them, 161 women were postmenopausal and their answers to questions regarding acute menopausal symptoms were collected for statistical analysis. The other 225 women were non-menopausal and their perception of menopausal symptoms was also collected for analysis. Qualitative data, in the form of transcripts, were interpreted using text-based content analysis.
Results: Among these women, 375/386 (97%) had previously heard of the menopause, but only 207/386 (53%) knew the definition of the term. The most commonly indicated source of knowledge on the menopause was reading material, such as newspapers and magazines 283/386 (43%); less common sources of information were friends 141/386 (22%), medical personnel 114/386 (18%) and family members 49/386 (8%). Among these women, 276 (71%) thought they should receive therapy. The most common acute menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women and perception of menopausal symptoms in non-menopausal women, respectively, were insomnia 68/161 (42%); 111/225 (49%), hot flushes 61/161 (38%); 115/225 (51%), heart palpitation 55/161 (34%); 103/225 (46%), an irritable temper 54/161 (34%); 138/225 (61%), dyspareunia 52/161 (32%); 100/225 (44%), headaches or dizziness 45/161 (28%); 74/225 (33%), a lack of energy 42/161 (26%); 73/225 (32%), depression 32/161 (20%); 114/225 (51%), night sweating 29/161 (18%); 61/225 (27%), and loss of bladder control 26/161 (16%); 37/225 (16%).
Conclusions: According to this study, Taiwanese women have a much higher percentage of awareness of the menopause than other Asian women, as reported previously and a greater willingness to receive treatment. We also found that most of their knowledge of the menopause was obtained from reading material (43%) or friends (22%). Furthermore, the percentage of recognition of menopausal symptoms, especially of vasomotor symptoms, is lower than that of Western women and higher than that of women in Hong Kong and Southern China.