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Positive attitude may help women control hot flashes

A new study looks at a woman’s attitude in connection with hot flashes. Researchers from Penn State asked a group of menopausal women to record their moods throughout the day along with hot flash frequency. The results show a more positive woman battles through hot flashes more effectively than negative a woman.

Looking at each woman’s mood

“The most consistent factor that seemed to differentiate the two groups was perceived control over hot flashes,” said Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology. “These women have ways of dealing with (hot flashes) and they believe they can control or cope with them in an effective way on a daily basis.”

Elavsky says, “It’s not enough anymore to do a study and look at overall impact of an exercise program on symptoms. It’s very clear that we need to look at the different responses that women might have, and try to understand these individual differences more.”

Participants use technology to report real-time information

 

Elavsky and her colleagues followed 24 menopausal women for the length of one menstrual cycle, or for 30 days if they were no longer menstruating. Each woman used a personal digital assistant to record hot flashes and wore an accelerometer at the hip to track physical activity. The women in the study regularly had hot flashes before the start of the study, experiencing from five to 20 a day.

“The real-time reporting of symptoms and the objective measurement is a strength of the study,” said Elavsky. “There aren’t any studies out there that use both of these approaches. … To ask a woman to report a symptom when she’s experiencing it is the most valid assessment.”

What this study could mean for women

The results suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy may help some women feel they have more control over their bodies and reactions to hot flashes.