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Abstract

This study examined the pattern of occurrence and the rate of concordance between objective hot flashes measured by sternal skin conductance and the subjective experience of “gorom vap laga” (feeling steaming hot) among Muslim and Hindu women living in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Participants were aged 40–55, not pregnant or lactating, not using hormone therapy, and with no history of hysterectomy. Thirty women wore an ambulatory hot flash monitor for 8 h on average, from mid-morning to early evening. True positive, false negative, and false positive measures of hot flashes were examined in relation to demographic, reproductive, and lifestyle variables. On body diagrams, women were most likely to indicate hot flashes on the top of their head (64%) and upper chest (68%). The greatest number of objective hot flashes occurred during the hour of 17:00, perhaps due to the heat of the day, and the clothing and activity associated with prayer. Muslim participants demonstrated more objective hot flashes per woman than Hindu participants (1.5 vs. 0.1, P < 0.05), and Muslims had more false positive measures (86%) compared with Hindu participants (0%, P = 0.06). Among all women who reported subjective hot flashes (n = 19), the proportion of true positive scores was 19%. Overall, the frequency of objective hot flashes was low compared with reports from studies in the United States. The pattern of sweating assessed by body diagrams was not associated with variation in hot flash experience. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.