Women who live with young children may be less likely to suffer hot flashes after going through surgical menopause, a new study suggests.
The finding, published recently in the journal Menopause, followed a small group of women who had their ovaries removed because they were at high genetic risk of ovarian cancer.
Most of the women had already gone through menopause, but 48 had not, which meant the surgery caused an abrupt menopause. In that group of women, those with a young child at home tended to have less severe hot flashes and night sweats.
“This is a very interesting study that raises some important questions,” said Dr. Jill Rabin, an obstetrician/gynecologist who was not involved in the research.
One of those questions is whether the hormone oxytocin offers some protection from hot flashes, according to Rabin, co-chief of ambulatory care at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Oxytocin is commonly known as the “bonding hormone,” because it’s released during certain types of human connection — including when mothers breastfeed or care for young children.
Study co-author Virginia Vitzthum, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University, in Bloomington, explained that oxytocin also helps regulate the body’s core temperature, which could be one reason why the women in the study who lived with children tended to have fewer hot flashes.
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