Results from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) show that women of color tend to enter perimenopause and menopause at earlier ages than their white peers, have longer transition periods, and experience more intense hot flashes and vaginal symptoms.
The study revealed that Black, Asian, and Latina women on average begin menopause earlier than white women. Black women also take longer to transition to menopause, at least partly because irregular bleeding starts at a younger age, according to a study published in the journal Menopause. Some groups experience the symptoms associated with menopause even later into the transition. The average duration of menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats was 6.5 years in non-Hispanic white women in SWAN, 8.9 years in Latina women, and 10.1 years in Black women. Native American women had more hot flashes than any ethnic group in their thirties and forties before menopause, but they were not studied through the menopause transition. The data published in Menopause implies that Native American women may have the very worst menopausal experience of the groups.
Getting menopause earlier means that a patient will get all of the biological effects of menopause (i.e., bone density decline, increase in fat mass, decrease in muscle mass, increased cholesterol) earlier, which in turn means they will have health consequences seen later in life a bit earlier.