• aging;
  • attitude;
  • menopause;
  • perceived stress;
  • symptoms

Introduction: As part of a longitudinal study of midlife women, the aim of this investigation was to describe the intensity of menopausal symptoms in relation to the level of perceived stress in a woman's life and her attitudes toward menopause and aging.

Methods: Data were collected on 347 women between 40 and 50 years of age in Northern California who began the study while premenopausal. Women self-identified as African American, European American, or Mexican/Central American. Data collected over three time points in the first 12 months were used for this analysis. An investigator-developed tool for the perception of specific types of stress was used. Attitudes toward menopause and aging were measured using the Attitudes Toward Menopause and Attitude Toward Aging scales. Attitudes toward aging and menopause, perceived stress, and income were related to intensity of symptoms.

Results: There was no ethnic group difference in perceived stress or attitude toward menopause. However, European and African Americans had a more positive attitude toward aging than Mexican/Central Americans.

Discussion: A lower income, higher perceived stress, a more negative attitude toward aging, and a more positive attitude toward menopause influenced menopausal symptom experience.