British women suffer the effects of the menopause more severely than those in other countries around the world due to stress, a new study suggests.
By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Published: 7:30AM BST 08 Jun 2010
They were more likely to say they experienced a range of symptoms than those in America, Canada, China and Japan.
The researchers behind the findings say that stress could be one of the key factors exacerbating the condition in British women.
Large amounts of soy in the Japanese diet could also specifically ease the effects of hot flushes, they believe.
The foodstuff contains large amounts of phytoestrogens, which mimic the effects of the hormone oestrogen on the body, potentially offsetting the steep drop in levels during the menopause.
The latest study asked more than 1,000 women from London, all aged between 45 and 55, to fill in a questionnaire on their symptoms and compared the answers with those from similar studies carried out abroad.
The team, based at the University of Westminster, concluded that the London women reported “a generally higher rate of menopausal symptoms” than elsewhere.
They found that 64 per cent reported suffering from tiredness, compared to 38 per cent of American women and six per cent of those from Japan.
Similarly 54 per cent reported aches in their joints, compared with just 39 per cent of Americans and 14 per cent of those in the Japanese survey.
Dr Volker Scheid, who led the research, said: “The women in our survey reported more menopausal symptoms than in the international comparisons we had available.
“The clinical implications of this are that each woman needs to be treated according to her unique experiences going through the menopause.
“We shouldn’t allow stereotypes to distort what the menopause entails.
“It may be that symptoms experienced during the menopausal transition arise through a complexity of factors, and not simply declining levels of oestrogen; ethnicity, geographic location, stress, local culture and age are factors that also need to be taken into account.”
The findings, reported in the journal Climacteric, also found that hot flushes and sweats were common in all women, but other symptoms, such as tiredness, insomnia and irritability depended on culture, age, and geography.
More women reported hot flushes in Britain and America than in China and Japan.