Restless legs syndrome among women: prevalence, co-morbidity and possible relationship to menopause

Climacteric. 2008 Oct;11(5):422-8. doi: 10.1080/13697130802359683.


Objectives: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common neurological movement disorder with a female preponderance and an increasing prevalence with age. During the menopausal transition, sleep is affected. Prior studies suggest that female hormones are associated with the clinical manifestation of RLS.

Methods: A random sample of 5000 women aged 18-64 years was selected from the general Swedish population. They were sent questions on RLS, general health, sleep problems, reproductive health and menopausal state.

Results: The response rate was 70.3%; 15.7% of the women were diagnosed with RLS. Prevalence increased with age. RLS subjects more often had symptoms of affected sleep and depressed mood. Co-morbidity with heart disease was more common among RLS subjects, whereas hypertension and diabetes mellitus were not. There was a strong association between vasomotor symptoms and RLS but no statistical relationship between use of hormone replacement therapy, postmenopausal state and RLS.

Conclusion: The prevalence of RLS among Swedish women is high. RLS sufferers more often suffered from depression and heart disease, whereas no such associations were noted for diabetes or hypertension. We found an increased prevalence of RLS among women with vasomotor symptoms (night sweats) during the menopausal transition but not among women using hormone replacement therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology
  • Climacteric*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweating
  • Sweden / epidemiology