Survey: Abuse Associated with Menopause-Related Symptoms

Women who reported recent abuse experienced more bother from menopausal symptoms.

Results of a survey suggest that women who recently experience abuse, particularly verbal or emotional abuse, have higher mean total menopausal symptom bother scores.

The study was presented at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2015 Annual Meeting.

“We know from previous research that the frequency and severity of menopausal symptoms are influenced by multiple factors, including obesity, caffeine, alcohol, and lower education, among others,” Stephanie Faubion, MD, study investigator and director of the Mayo Clinic Office of Women’s Health in Rochester, Minnesota, said in an interview.

“In addition, all forms of abuse are associated with adverse health outcomes and poor mental health.”

The goal of the study, Dr Faubion said, was to determine the association between self-reported abuse in the last year and menopausal symptom bother. She and fellow investigators defined abuse as physical, sexual, or emotional/verbal abuse occurring within the past year, while menopausal symptoms included hot flashes, sleep disturbances, cognitive function, bowel/bladder function, sexual function, and general health.

Overall, 3,740 women completed the survey, which assessed the incidence of abuse and menopausal symptom bother. 

Among responders, 6.8% experienced one or more forms of abuse within the past year, and of them, 96.8% reported verbal/emotional abuse, 13.4% physical abuse, and 3.9% sexual abuse.

“We noted an association between self-reported recent abuse and higher total menopausal symptom scores,” Dr Faubion said. “Specifically, we found increases in scores across domains related to sleep, mood and cognition, bowel and bladder function, and sexual function in women reporting abuse compared to those not reporting abuse. Interestingly, vasomotor symptoms were not more bothersome in women reporting abuse.”

There were no distinctions between groups in age, race/ethnicity, or education. However, those who reported abuse in the past year were more likely to smoke and be classified as work-disabled.

“Abuse has a far-reaching and long-lasting impact on physical and emotional health,” Dr Faubion said. “Healthcare providers need to be aware of this association, which can serve as a prompt to screen for current abuse. [The study] also raises awareness that the health impact of verbal and emotional abuse should not be underestimated.”


  1. Faubion S, et al. Presented at: North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2015 Annual Meeting; Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2015; Las Vegas.