Objective: The menopausal syndrome is described as a series of various physical and nonphysical symptoms attributed to perimenopausal changes in hormone levels. However, evidence is biased by focusing research on the target group of middle aged women only. To overcome this bias, we examined the occurrence of menopausal symptoms during the entire life span in both women and men.
Methods: Therefore, we studied the occurrence of menopausal symptoms with the widely used Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) across the entire life span in both women and men. To this end, we performed a nationwide cross-sectional survey study in Germany in which we examined a representative sample of 2527 persons aged from 14 to 95 years. Additionally, sociodemographic factors and self-efficacy were surveyed.
Results: Although the overall MRS score was generally higher for women compared to men, there was no specific peak for the time of menopause. Instead the score increased linearly with age for both sexes. Furthermore, it was stronger associated with sociodemographic variables and self-efficacy than with the sex of the participants. Among all assessed symptoms, only hot flushes and sweating, but none of the others, emerged as specific for the menopausal episode.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that among symptoms commonly classified as menopausal only hot flushes and sweating appear to be specific for the perimenopausal episode. Other symptoms may be caused by a multifactorial etiopathogenesis including physical, sociodemographic, cultural and psychological factors that, in turn, might benefit from multimodal treatment regimes.
Keywords: Climacteric; hot flushes; menopause; sociodemographic; women.