Guest Author - Tammy Elizabeth Southin
Women in Slovenia, as women elsewhere, experience the challenges of menopause. As is the case in many European and North American nations, an aging population brings additional challenges to the healthcare system. This makes menopause and related women’s healthcare issues increasingly important. Studies carried out by the Slovene Menopause Society are helping to raise awareness and to educate patients and physicians.
A small country in East-central Europe with a population of just over two million, Slovenia emerged as an independent nation in 1991 after several years of Communist rule as part of Yugoslavia. Half of the population lives in urban areas. The median age of Slovene citizens is 44.1 years, and women have an average life expectancy of 81.2 years.
A three-phase study carried out in 1990, 2000, and 2010 examined the perimenopausal symptoms and their effects on women’s quality of life. Researchers set up this long-term to compare women’s symptoms and evaluate how much of an impact menopause had on women. Subjective in nature, the questionnaires dealt with information on personal, social, and reproductive history in addition to lifestyle habits and menopausal symptoms.
For each study, women between the ages of 45-54 were selected and given questionnaires to rate quality of life. In 1990 a total of 585 women participated, in 2000 665, and in 2010 334. The last phase of the study showed that the average age for menopause had increased from 47.7 years in 1990, to 47.7 years in 2000, and 50.4 years in 2010. This compares to the general benchmark age of 51 cited in North America and Western Europe.
The number of women in this sample is small, but indicates an increase in a menopausal age. The study’s abstract did not state how many women in each phase described themselves or were medically assessed as either still in menopause or finished menopause.
Some of the more interesting findings regarding menopause symptoms that will be familiar to readers include the following from the 1990 phase of the study:
Nervousness (anxiety, mood swings) was listed as a common complaint by 63.9% of the women.
*Sweating or excessive perspiring affected 60.7% of respondents.
*Hot flashes were noted by 55.4% of the women.
*By 2000, the numbers had increased somewhat. Nervousness reports grew to 71.7%, and sweating was up to 63.4%. In 2010, those numbers were relatively unchanged.
Further conclusions at the end of the study showed that the most common menopausal symptoms affected about two-thirds of menopausal women. For a smaller percentage, between 7-13%, menopause symptoms were described as severe. The women in the study did not have any overtly negative perceptions about menopause, and viewed it as a normal part of life. The study does point out that osteoporosis is a growing concern for Slovenian women.
These studies demonstrate the need for increased patient education to help manage menopause symptoms and prevent aging related conditions such as osteoporosis. With additional resources dedicated to women’s healthcare, menopause management will mean a better quality of life during the postmenopausal years.
Abstract: Perimenopausal features and quality of life in Slovenian women in the years 1990, 2000, and 2010 – a prospective study – Meden Vrtovec Helena (SI) et al – University Medical accessed at the 13th World Congress on Menopause at www.imsroma2011.com
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You can help you keep track of your menopause symptoms!