Objective: To explore symptoms, understanding of menopausal therapies, medication use and health-related behavior in women with and without premature menopause.
Methods: Cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study involving a community-based sample of 77 women in Australia: 23 premenopausal, 25 with premature ovarian failure (POF) and 29 with medically induced premature menopause (MIPM).
Results: The median (interquartile range) age of each group was: premenopausal = 29 (13) years, POF = 36 (8.0) years and MIPM = 38 (4.0) years (p < 0.001). The reported frequency of menopausal symptoms differed across the groups for difficulty sleeping (premenopausal = 26%, POF = 44%, MIPM = 69%, p = 0.01), some depression symptoms (premenopausal = 4.4-22%, POF = 20-25%, MIPM = 38-59%, p < 0.05), hot flushes (premenopausal = 4.4%, POF = 28%, MIPM = 59%, p < 0.001), sweating at night (premenopausal = 4.4%, POF = 20%, MIPM = 52%, p < 0.001) and loss of interest in sex (premenopausal = 17%, POF = 52%, MIPM = 54%, p = 0.02). More women with premature menopause than premenopausal women reported taking prescription medication (premenopausal = 52%, POF = 92%, MIPM = 86%, p = 0.002), perceived that hormone therapy (HT) was associated with increased breast cancer risk (premenopausal = 43%, POF = 56%, MIPM = 79%, p = 0.03) and that HT prevented fractures (premenopausal = 13%, POF = 56%, MIPM = 39%, p = 0.01). Most women reported not knowing risks/benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy (premenopausal = 86%, POF = 56%, MIPM = 75%, p = 0.06). Regarding health-related behavior around prevention and screening, varying rates of bone densitometry (premenopausal = 4.4%, POF = 64%, MIPM = 59%, p < 0.001), blood glucose testing (premenopausal = 39%, POF = 67%, MIPM = 57%, p = 0.16) and cholesterol testing (premenopausal = 22%, POF = 71%, MIPM = 54%, p = 0.003) were reported.
Conclusions: Differences in understanding of menopausal therapies and health-related behavior exist among women with premature menopause of differing etiology and premenopausal women. While perceived understanding of HT was greater than other therapies, targeted education is needed regarding specific risks/benefits of menopausal therapies and regarding preventive health screening after premature menopause.
Keywords: CAM; CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE; HEALTH BEHAVIOR; HORMONE REPLACEMENT; MENOPAUSE THERAPIES; OSTEOPOROSIS; PREMATURE MENOPAUSE; SCREENING.