PHILADELPHIA — Women with a self-reported history of infertility are more likely than fertile women to experience night sweats when they reach the perimenopause, according to Brandon J. Bankowski, M.D.
“This is a unique observation,” he said at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
“Women who experience these menopausal symptoms may have had something going on throughout their lives that manifested itself as infertility earlier on and then as night sweats later,” he told this newspaper.
Dr. Bankowski and his associates recruited 435 women between 45 and 54 years of age with an intact uterus, ovaries, and at least three menstrual periods in the last year. The women provided one blood sample for the measurement of their estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) levels. They also completed an extensive questionnaire regarding personal demographics; parity; and reproductive history, including a specific question about their self-reported history of an inability to conceive within 1 year of trying.
Slightly more than one-quarter of the women (27%) reported a history of infertility, and these women had no other significant differences in baseline characteristics, compared with controls.
When study participants were asked about 10 different menopausal symptoms, the only significant difference between the women with infertility cases and controls was in their reporting of night sweats, said Dr. Bankowski, a fellow in reproductive medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Infertile patients were more likely to report night sweats in every frequency category. For example, 26% of the infertile women reported one episode of night sweats per night, compared with none of the controls. Almost 14% of the infertile women reported two episodes per night, compared with 4% of controls. Almost 5% of infertile women but none of the controls indicated they had more than four episodes per night. Blood tests on all the women revealed no differences in hormonal levels between the cases and controls.
“It's possible there's a common underlying mechanism that's creating both the infertility and the night sweats. This is important with regard to prevention and treatment,” he said.
Dr. Bankowski said they hope next to follow infertile patients prospectively to see if they develop more night sweats than fertile controls.