A new Mayo Clinic study, published online today by the journal Menopause, found an association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. The study also showed an association between caffeine intake and fewer problems with mood, memory and concentration in perimenopausal women, possibly because caffeine is known to enhance arousal, mood and attention. The findings of this largest study to date on caffeine and menopausal symptoms are published on the Menopause website and will also be printed in a future issue of the journal.
For the study, researchers conducted a survey using the Menopause Health Questionnaire, a comprehensive assessment of menopause-related health information that includes personal habits and ratings of menopausal symptom presence and severity. Questionnaires were completed by 2,507 consecutive women who presented with menopausal concerns at the Women's Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester between July 25, 2005, and July 25, 2011. Data from 1,806 women who met all inclusion criteria were analyzed. Menopausal symptom ratings were compared between caffeine users and nonusers.
Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of caffeine-containing beverage daily. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in 79 percent of perimenopausal women and 65 percent of postmenopausal women. Although it has long been believed that caffeine intake exacerbates menopausal vasomotor symptoms, research has challenged this assumption, as caffeine has been both positively and negatively linked to hot flashes.
"While these findings are preliminary, our study suggests that limiting caffeine intake may be useful for those postmenopausal women who have bothersome hot flashes and night sweats," says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., director of the Women's Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "Menopause symptoms can be challenging but there are many management strategies to try."
Other strategies Dr. Faubion recommends include:
• Be aware of triggers such as spicy foods and hot beverages.
• In addition to caffeine, limit alcohol and tobacco.
• Dress in layers, so you can remove a layer when you're warm.
• Consider products to stay cool at night such as wicking sheets and sleepwear, fans, and cooling pillows.
• Try stress management strategies such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture and massage.
• Maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and stay active.
• Talk with your provider about hormone therapy and non-hormonal prescription medications to alleviate symptoms.