OBJECTIVE: Many studies have evaluated the relationships between ethnicity and culture, prevalence of menopausal symptoms, and attitudes toward them, but few have assessed menopausal symptoms across cultures world-wide. This paper aims to systematically review the prevalence of hot flushes and night sweats, two prevalent symptoms of menopause, across the menopausal stages in different cultures and considers potential explanations for differences in prevalence rates. DESIGN: Sixty-six papers formed the basis for this review. Studies were organized by geographic region, and results are presented for North America, Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, Latin America, South Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Studies were included if they provided quantitative information on the occurrence of hot flushes. This report focuses on hot flushes and night sweats, the most common menopausal symptoms reported in epidemiologic studies. RESULTS: Studies reviewed indicate that vasomotor symptoms are highly prevalent in most societies. The prevalence of these symptoms varies widely and may be influenced by a range of factors, including climate, diet, lifestyle, women's roles, and attitudes regarding the end of reproductive life and aging. Patterns in hot flush prevalence were apparent for menopausal stages and, to a lesser degree, for regional variation. CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers should recognize that variations exist and ask patients specific questions about symptoms and their impact on usual functioning.
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