Hot Flashes Can Linger for More Than a Decade

February 23, 2015

New research shows hot flashes last longer than once thought, and when they begin can indicate how long hot flashes will linger.

Hot flashes lasted more than 7 years during menopause and can linger for as long as 14 years, a study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine found.

In the largest study to date, which involved a diverse group of 1,449 women with frequent hot flashes or night sweats, the researchers found the median length of time women endured symptoms was 7.4 years. Among the 881 women who had an observable final menstrual period, the researchers found hot flashes lasted years beyond that final period. The median for hot flashes to persist was 4.5 years after a woman’s final period.

Key Points:

- Hot flashes can last up to 14 years, with the median duration sitting at more than 7 years.

- When hot flashes begin is associated with how long they last, with earlier onset generally indicating a longer duration.

The hope is that the findings will aid clinicians in counseling patients about hot flashes and lead to a more informed decision making process when it comes to potential treatments, the authors suggested. The authors also conclude that the duration of hot flashes emphasizes the need to identify safe long-term therapies that could help offer relief to women throughout the years, the study concludes.

The analysis relied on data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, which showed some difference among women according to race and ethnicity. For example, compared with other women, African American women reported the longest total duration of hot flashes, with a median of 10.1 years.

In addition, the study should that the earlier a women entered menopause, the longer hot flashes were likely to persist. So among women who were premenopausal or early perimenopausal when they first reported frequent hot flashes, the median duration of the symptoms was more than 11 years. By comparison, women who were postmenopausal at the onset of their hot flashes suffered for the fewest years, a median of 3.4 years.