Women experiencing debilitating hot flushes brought on by the menopause may be handed new hope by a trial at Liverpool John Moores University.
The medical profession currently offers limited options to alleviate symptoms, which can last for five years or more and have severe impacts on quality of life. Approximately 70% of menopausal women suffer from hot flushes, with around 20% of them describing the experience as “near intolerable”.
“Whilst HRT can help women with hot flush symptoms, some women don’t want to take it, and for others it is not suitable, leaving very few alternatives,” explained Dr Kirsty Roberts, who is conducting a trial of the causes of hot flushes.
“Hot flushes are the symptom that most often prompts women to seek treatment. It can feel as though a wave of heat has washed over the upper body, leaving the face, neck and chest flushed and sweaty,” explained Kirsty.
“It can lead to women feeling embarrassed, anxious, depressed and fatigued.”
The causes of hot flushes are not clear but may relate to changes in the function of sweat glands and/or skin blood vessels as the sex hormone oestrogen drops off during and after the menopause.
The LJMU research assesses the function and structure of skin blood vessels and sweat glands in three groups of women: postmenopausal women with hot flushes, those without hot flushes, and younger premenopausal women.
The three-way comparison will allow researchers to identify any differences and establish if indeed hot flushes are a skin and/or a sweat gland issue or actually related to a central mechanism.
“Until we have more evidence of what causes a hot flush, it is certainly a problem trying to figure out how to design effective treatments for one.”
Kirsty, with funding from the British Heart Foundation through the Daphne Jackson Trust, is recruiting dozens of women to the trial which is seeking groups of women: those over 45 with hot flushes, those over 45 with no hot flushes and premenopausal women aged 18-30 as a comparator.
Participants will be required to complete a medical history screening questionnaire and a 7-day hot flush diary (if you experience menopausal hot flushes), prior to two separate visits to the cardiovascular laboratories at LJMU’s Byrom Street campus.
Watch Dr Kirsty Roberts interviewed about the menopause by the British Heart Foundation.
Principal Investigator: Dr Kirsty Roberts, LJMU Postdoctoral Research Fellow
LJMU Email address: K.A.Roberts@ljmu.ac.uk
LJMU School/Faculty: School of Sport and Exercise Sciences