Purpose: To determine the prevalence and describe the pattern of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms in premenopausal-, perimenopausal-, and menopausal-age women.
Data sources: Three tools were used to collect data: the Menopause Rating Scale, a standardized, self-administered 11-item scale that assesses the presence of menopausal symptoms and their impact on quality of life; the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale, a standardized, self-administered 15-question survey that inquires about both lower and upper gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms; and the Reflux Disease Questionnaire (RDQ), a self-administered 14-question survey currently being evaluated in the United States as a specific diagnostic tool for GERD that specifically addresses upper GI symptoms of discomfort. Additionally, GERD were correlated with vasomotor, vaginal, genitourinary, and other menopausal symptoms using multiple regression analysis to assess the relationships between GERD and menopausal symptoms.
Conclusions: Approximately 497 women between the ages of 25 and 60 years completed the surveys. The prevalence of GERD symptoms was high in this sample. Almost 42% of perimenopausal and 47% of menopausal participants complained of upper GI symptoms. Although perimenopausal and menopausal women had higher percentages of GERD diagnosis as compared to premenopausal women, 80% of the perimenopausal and menopausal groups had never been diagnosed with an upper GI disorder. A post hoc analysis of RDQ results demonstrated that patients with menopause had significantly more upper GI discomfort. Overall, this study found that menopausal women were 2.9 times more likely to have GERD symptoms.
Implications for practice: These findings are strongly suggestive of a hormonal link between perimenopausal and menopausal states and increasing GERD symptoms. Women of all ages should be screened for symptoms of GERD, especially in the perimenopausal and menopausal population of women because diagnosis of GERD is often not made or misdiagnosed. The impact on the quality of life of women experiencing GERD symptoms cannot be underestimated.