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Emotional abuse worsens menopausal symptoms: JAMA


Emotional abuse worsens menopausal symptoms: JAMA

Women who have suffered emotional abuse from their partner’s end are more likely to experience heightened menopausal symptoms, finds a new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. 

Carolyn J. Gibson, a clinical research psychologist affiliated with the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, and colleagues conducted the study to examine the associations of intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault, and posttraumatic stress with menopause symptoms among midlife and older women.

For the purpose, the authors conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data from a multiethnic cohort of 2016 women 40 to 80 years of age in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system from November 15, 2008, to March 30, 2012.

The research team looked at three types of menopause symptoms among the 2,016 participants: difficulties with sleep; vaginal discomfort such as dryness, irritation and painful sex; and vasomotor symptoms, which includes night sweats and hot flashes.

Key Findings:

  • One in five women were emotionally abused by their current or former partners, and these women had 50 percent higher odds of night sweats and 60 percent higher odds of painful sex.
  • Among women with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or those who were victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, the prevalence of menopausal pain and discomfort was also significantly higher.
  • Women with PTSD symptoms had just over three times the odds of sleep difficulties and more than twice the odds of reporting vaginal irritation and painful intercourse.
  • Women who were victims of sexual assault or violence by former or present partners had 40-to-44 percent higher odds of painful sex.
  • 21 percent of women (423) said that they had been emotionally abused by their former or current partner. This was defined as “made fun of, severely criticized, told you were a stupid or worthless person, or threatened with harm to yourself, your possessions or your pets.
  • Some 23 percent (450) reported symptoms that matched a diagnosis of PTSD, 16 percent (316) said they were or had been victims of domestic violence and 19 percent (382) had experienced sexual assault.

“Traditionally, menopause symptoms have been largely attributed to biological and hormonal changes, as well as negative mood symptoms, health-risk behaviors, cardio-metabolic risk factors and chronic health conditions that occur at a higher rate during and after menopause,” said Gibson.

“Stress related to emotional abuse and other traumatic exposures may influence the hormonal and physiological changes of menopause and aging, affecting biological susceptibility as well as the subjective experience of these symptoms,” she said.

“The data show that experience of domestic violence and emotional abuse, sexual assault and clinically significant PTSD symptoms are common, and may affect women’s health across the lifespan,” said Gibson. “Our findings highlight the need for greater recognition of these exposures by clinicians caring for midlife and older women.”

For further reference follow the link: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5233

Source: With inputs from JAMA Internal Medicine

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