Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Physiology and Clinical Symptoms of Menopause

Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, FACOG; Melissa Wellons, MD


Semin Reprod Med. 2013;31(5):380-386. 

In This Article


More than 4 million menopausal women are from ethnic minority groups. Over the past 25 years, recognition of the importance of social, emotional, and physical changes of midlife to women's long-term health and well-being has emerged. Multiple factors influence how a woman perceives menopausal changes and what she addresses as associated symptoms. Factors such as educational level to socioeconomic status, health-related factors, stress, and marital status influence these choices. Increasingly, researchers are reporting on the impact of race and ethnicity on menopausal symptoms. Understanding similarities and differences among women's perceptions, attitudes, and expectations surrounding menopause improves delivery of culturally appropriate care and promotes lifestyles that may decrease symptoms and increase quality of life. Historically, the majority of the research in this area has been conducted in Western countries with clinical samples of women predominantly from European backgrounds. Thus, this population has shaped the emerging clinical picture of the midlife menopausal transition. Recently, studies of non-European women, both in the United States and internationally, indicate significant variations in their experiences during this transition, but these cultural differences have not broadened the understanding of the meaning of this universal experience. To date, there are still large knowledge gaps in race, ethnic, and cultural differences in menopausal health. The content of this review summarizes the current body of knowledge on racial differences in the menopause experience.