Relation of demographic and lifestyle factors to symptoms in a multi-racial/ethnic population of women 40-55 years of age

Ellen B. Gold, Barbara Sternfeld, Jennifer L. Kelsey, Charlotte Brown, Charles Mouton, Nancy Reame, Loran Salamone, Rebecca Stellato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

710 Scopus citations


A community-based survey was conducted during 1995-1997 of factors related to menopausal and other symptoms in a multi-racial/ethnic sample of 16,065 women aged 40-55 years. Each of seven sites comprising the Study of Women's Health across the Nation (SWAN) surveyed one of four minority populations and a Caucasian population. The largest adjusted prevalence odds ratios for all symptoms, particularly hot flashes or night sweats (odds ratios = 2.06-4.32), were for women who were peri- or postmenopausal. Most symptoms were reported least frequently by Japanese and Chinese (odds ratios = 0.47-0.67 compared with Caucasian) women. African-American women reported vasomotor symptoms and vaginal dryness more (odds ratios = 1.17-1.63) but urine leakage and difficulty sleeping less (odds ratios = 0.64-0.72) than Caucasians. Hispanic women reported urine leakage, vaginal dryness, heart pounding, and forgetfulness more (odds ratios = 1.22-1.85). Hot flashes or night sweats, urine leakage, and stiffness or soreness were associated with a high body mass index (odds ratios = 1.15-2.18 for women with a body mass index ≥27 vs. 19-26.9 kg/m2). Most symptoms were reported most frequently among women who had difficulty paying for basics (odds ratios = 1.15-2.05), who smoked (odds ratios = 1.21-1.78), and who rated themselves less physically active than other women their age (odds ratios = 1.24-2.33). These results suggest that lifestyle, menstrual status, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affect symptoms in this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnic groups
  • Menopause
  • Risk factors
  • Smoking
  • Social class
  • Symptoms and general pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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