By Corinne Rivard
Since the advent of antiretroviral therapy, individuals with HIV are living longer and experiencing health-related changes associated with aging. For women, menopause is one such issue.
Perimenopause occurs in the years before the final menstrual period when menstrual patterns start to become irregular.1 Hot flashes are the most common symptom associated with perimenopause.2 In the United States, about 75% of perimenopausal women report experiencing hot flashes.2 Hot flashes are defined by a sensation of warmth on the upper body and/or face.2 Additionally, hot flashes may be associated with sleep problems and depressed mood.3
In April 2014, Dr. Sara E. Looby and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School published their research looking at hot flash severity and hot flash-related interference with daily life in perimenopausal women with HIV.4 This was the first comparison of menopause symptoms and menopause symptom burden between perimenopausal women with and without HIV.
Sixty-six women, half with HIV and half without HIV completed the study. The average age of the women in the study was 47 years.4 During the study, women completed several questionnaires including the Menopause Rating Scale to measure severity of hot flashes, and the Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale to rate the burden of hot flashes on activities of daily living and quality of life.4 Researchers concluded that perimenopausal women with HIV experience hot flashes which are more severe and have more of a negative impact on activities of daily living and quality of life as compared with perimenopausal women without HIV.4
Are you experiencing hot flashes? Do you understand what menopause is and what the symptoms associated with menopause are? Ask your doctor about menopause at your next visit, so you can learn more about the menopause transition and hot flashes. Staying informed can help you better understand this process and learn about ways to help your menopause symptoms.