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Hot Flashes Can Happen Before Menopause

Update Date: Jun 12, 2013 02:07 PM EDT

Experiencing random hot flashes in middle age? Don't worry, it doesn't necessarily mean you're about to enter menopause.

A new study reveals that more than half of middle-aged women who still have regular cycles experience hot flashes. 

Researchers found that women of Asian and Hispanic descent are less likely to have hot flashes compared to women of European descent.

The study published in the journal Menopause reveals that the rates of hot flashes among middle-aged women who still have regular cycles are actually surprisingly high compared to previous studies.

The study, which involved 1,500 participants, consisted of a diverse group of women including whites, blacks, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, women of mixed ethnicity, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Japanese, East Indians, Chinese, and other Asians. The women in the study were 45 to 56 year old, had regular cycles, had no skipped periods and were not taking hormones.

Surprisingly, 55 percent of women reported having hot flashes or night sweats.  Researchers explained that the highest rates found in previous studies were all below 50 percent.

Researchers found that Native Americans and black women were most likely to report hot flashes or night sweats with 67 percent of Native American women reporting them and 61 percent of black women reporting them. The study also found that 58 percent of white women reported having hot flashes.

The study found that Asian and Hispanic women were significantly less likely to experience hot flashes and night sweats compared to Native American, black and white women.

The study found that among Asian women 31 percent of Filipino, 26 percent of Japanese, 25 percent of East Indian, 23 percent of "other Asian," and 18 percent of Chinese women reported having hot flashes or night sweats. They study found that 26 percent of Hispanic women reported hot flashes or night sweats.

The study found that white women who experienced hot flashes and night sweats were significantly more likely to include soy in their diet, and white women who never had symptoms were more likely to have no soy in their diet.

Researchers said the latest findings should help ease worries for women who have been surprised by hot flashes and night sweats while they were still having regular cycles. Researchers said these symptoms are perfectly normal and don't necessarily mean they are in menopause yet.

"Some women even have a hot flash the first couple of nights after childbirth," Dr. Margery Gass, The North American Menopause Society Executive Director, said in a statement. 

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