A new Brazilian study finds that women with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) who are receiving hormone therapy have poorer sleep quality and greater fatigue than women of the same age with preserved ovarian function.
POI is the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40. The condition differs from premature menopause in that women with POI can still have irregular or occasional periods for years and might even become pregnant.
Sleep problems are a frequent complaint of women who are transitioning through menopause and postmenopause: It is estimated that 40% to 50% of menopausal and postmenopausal women struggle with sleep issues. Sleep problems include difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, as well as waking up too early.
Complicating matters is the fact that women with insomnia also report more body pain, headaches, daytime dysfunction, mood disorders, fatigue, and decreased work productivity. Although some of the problems are related to other common symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, not all sleep issues can be traced back to these root causes.
Although numerous studies have been conducted about the sleep patterns of menopausal and postmenopausal women in general, this newest study from Brazil is believed to be the first to specifically evaluate the sleep quality in women with POI.
The findings show that women with POI who are receiving hormone therapy have poorer sleep quality, largely as a result of taking longer to fall asleep. These women were also found to have a higher fatigue index and were more likely to use sleep-inducing medications compared with comparably aged women who still had full ovarian function.
“This study shows that women with POI have poor sleep quality despite the use of hormone therapy,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, Medical Director of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
“Another interesting finding from the study is that total sleep quality in women with POI was directly related to the number of children they had and overall was similar to sleep quality in women without POI.”
“This speaks to the scope of the problem when it comes to sleep disturbances and the important and often under-recognized factors that contribute to sleep complaints being more common in women than in men.”