Menopausal symptoms and ethnicity: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation

Robin Green, Nanette Santoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


A number of studies have suggested that ethnic background influences a woman's perception of her symptoms. The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) is a multiethnic, longitudinal, cohort study of US women that includes non-Hispanic Caucasian, African-American, Chinese, Japanese and Hispanic women. The initial strategy for this seven-site study involved community-based recruitment of non-Hispanic Caucasians at each site, plus one minority ethnic group. Since ethnicity varies with many other factors, measures of education, acculturation, social status, psychological wellbeing and financial strain were all taken into account in interpreting symptom onset, frequency and severity of the common menopausal symptoms. Biological and physical measures were also assessed and related to symptoms. Most symptoms varied by ethnicity. Vasomotor symptoms were more prevalent in African-American and Hispanic women and were also more common in women with greater BMI, challenging the widely held belief that obesity is protective against vasomotor symptoms. Vaginal dryness was present in 30-40% of SWAN participants at baseline, and was most prevalent in Hispanic women. Among Hispanic women, symptoms varied by country of origin. Acculturation appears to play a complex role in menopausal symptomatology. We conclude that ethnicity should be taken into account when interpreting menopausal symptom presentation in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalWomen's Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Ethnicity
  • Hispanic
  • Hot flashes
  • Menopause
  • Vasomotor symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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