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Oct 27, 2014 11:53 PM EDT

Being Around Young Children May Reduce Menopausal Symptoms

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Symptoms of menopause may be reduced when young children are around, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Kinsey Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that the timeless, multicultural tradition of grandmothering might have an unexpected benefit: helping some women temper their hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.

The process of menopause, when ovaries no longer produce eggs and menstruation stops, varies widely. Some women have almost no bothersome symptoms, while some women experience almost crippling symptoms.

"These are intriguing findings," researcher Tierney Lorenz said in a statement. "For women who were menopausal when our study began, those with young children at home actually showed more symptoms of hot flashes. But the women who underwent rapid menopause because of the surgical removal of their ovaries showed a dramatic reduction of symptoms."

The research team examined how close relationships can help women in midlife with this inevitable change - the looked for therapeutic benefits that might help patients deal with this unpredictable, poorly understood transition, and used this info to predict an evolutionary connection. Their study, which focused on the relationship between mid-life women and young children, found that women who underwent rapid menopause, caused by the surgical removal of ovaries, had fewer hot flashes and night sweats when young children lived in their homes.

The study involved 117 participants in the study; 69 women were menopausal or postmenopausal at the time of their surgery, with 29 of them having at least one child at home, and 48 women were premenopausal, with 28 of them having at least one child at home. Researchers measured hot flashes and night sweats just before the surgery and then again at two months, six months and 12 months post-surgery.

Lorenz cautioned that the findings of their study cannot be generalized to all women, particularly since menopause affects women so differently.

"The fact the effects observed were limited to only women with children younger than 13 years suggests that parity was not sufficient to produce changes in flashes and points instead to the increased nurturance needs of young children," the authors wrote in the journal article. "Presence of young children at home may moderate development of hot flashes during the menopausal transition."

The findings were published in the Menopause: the Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

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