Menopause Transition Harder for Women with FM/CFS

A study analyzed the “menopausal transition” symptoms of 216 midlife women ages 35 to 55 diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and/or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and symptomatic in the prior six months – by comparison with a matched community-based population of midlife women without major illness. No study participants had a hysterectomy. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, involved questionnaire-based interviews asking about 61 possible symptoms and assessing symptom severity for each. Participants were grouped by menopausal status. Key findings were that:

n The symptoms for the FM/CFS patients tended to cluster around the same five factors as for the healthy comparison population: aroused/anxious mood, depressed mood/withdrawal, musculoskeletal discomfort, gastrointestinal problems, and vasomotor (“hot flashes”).

n However, a “much higher number” of the FM/CFS patients experienced symptoms.

n And the severity scores of the FM/CFS women were higher in three symptom areas: musculoskeletal aches and pains, gastrointestinal problems, and vasomotor symptoms.

n But the severity of mood-related symptoms (anxiety and depression) was comparable for the two groups.

The study report, “Menopausal Transition Symptoms in Midlife Women Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue,” by Joellen Wilbur, et al., was published in the August 2006 issue of Health Care for Women International.

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