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Women's Health

Teenaged Hot Flashes


Yes. You're right. The thought of having menopausal symptoms as a teenager may sound absolutely ridiculous to the average woman. For a young woman who can't even legally buy cigarettes, having hot flashes are probably the last thing on her mind.

However, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, women are at a significant risk of suffering menopausal symptoms at an unexpectedly young age. The cause of this concern is a phenomenon called an "Estrogen Crash," which may affect women aged 15-44. An Estrogen Crash occurs when both of a woman's ovaries are removed or suddenly fail to function, which causes estrogen production to halt.

The Center also provided these facts:

  • Approximately 600,000 women undergo hysterectomies each year;

  • Between 1988-1993, 51 percent of women who had hysterectomies also had a bilateral oophorectomy, the removal of both ovaries;

  • More than 20 percent of the 1.7 million women who underwent bilateral oophorectomies and hysterectomies between 1988-1993 were younger than 40; and,

  • Approximately one in 100 women in the United States will develop ovarian failure before 40.

"Naturally menopausal women have a gradual decline in estrogen levels over a two to 10-year period. In contrast, estrogen output of younger women who have undergone surgical menopause or ovarian failure is cut abruptly," Director of the Woman's Wellness Division at New York University Medical School, Dr. Lilia Nachtigall said. "The result is the sudden and immediate arrival of vasomotor symptoms: hot flashes or flushes, night sweats, associated sleep disturbances and vaginal dryness."

According to Nachtigall:

  • Hot flashes may occur in 85 percent of naturally menopausal women, but only 15 percent may experience severe symptoms, and

  • By menopause, 43 percent of those women experience moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, which can last two years.

Nachtigall also said at her practice 100 percent of surgically menopausal women had vasomotor symptoms, and 90 percent had severe symptoms lasting about 8.5 years. Overall, she said that women experiencing natural menopause will not have vasomotor symptoms consistently. Rather, they may have a bad months sporadically through the year. With a bilateral oophorectomy, the effects are more drastic and young women may have severe reactions.

Address: Noven Pharmaceuticals Inc., 11960 Southwest 144th Street, Miami, FL 33186-6109; (302) 253-5099, www.noven.com.



© 2001 Health Resources Publishing