Could your genes be to blame for your hot flashes?
New research suggests that's so, with genetics playing a role in both the severity and frequency of those hallmarks of menopause.
While hot flashes are common, they don't affect all women to the same degree and the reasons for those differences are unclear.
Genetics have been been suspected, because Black women tend to have greater struggles with hot flashes than white women, and Chinese and Japanese women seem to have the mildest hot flashes, according to researchers.
To learn more, the researchers looked at more than 1,200 women of various ethnicities and concluded that some of the same genetic factors that predict reproductive aging may also be associated with hot flashes.
That suggests that genetics may play a role in predicting the severity and frequency of hot flashes, according to the study, published online April 28 in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
Understanding how genes affect hot flashes is crucial in trying to find treatments for managing them, according to the researchers.
"This study found that genetic factors associated with aging of the reproductive system may be linked to vasomotor symptoms during the menopause transition and differ across racial/ethnic groups," said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.
"These findings move us one step closer to being able to predict a woman's experience with menopause symptoms and, subsequently, to provide management recommendations based, in part, on her genetics," Faubion said in a NAMS news release.
"In addition, researchers may be able to use these specific genetic variations as targets for the development of new drugs to alleviate vasomotor symptoms," she said. Vasomotor symptoms are usually described as hot flashes, flushes and night sweats.
Previous research has suggested a connection between body mass index and the frequency and severity of hot flashes, although this association is complex and dependent on the stage of reproductive aging, according to NAMS.
Lower estrogen levels have also been linked with more frequent hot flashes, and some of those studies offered evidence of some overlap in genes associated with a woman's age at the start of menstruation and her age at natural menopause, the researchers said.
The U.S. Office on Women's Health has more about menopause.
SOURCE: The North American Menopause Society, news release, April 28, 2021