• hot flashes;
  • menopause;
  • race

OBJECTIVE: To compare the prevalence of hot flashes and health education regarding menopause in African-American and white American women in the late reproductive years.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Population-based sample recruited through random digit dialing.

PARTICIPANTS: The sample was 436 women between the ages of 35 and 48 years with regular menses. Half the sample was African American and half was white American.

MAIN RESULTS: African-American women (53%) were more likely than white American women (29%) to have experienced hot flashes (p < .001). The difference remained after adjustment for body-mass index, education, menstrual cycle characteristics, and gynecologic and medical history. Despite the high prevalence of symptoms, few women had discussed menopausal management with their physicians. For white women the media were the primary source of menopause-related information, whereas African-American women reported that their family was the primary source of information.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that hot flashes occur commonly among women in their thirties and forties who have regular menstrual cycles and that the prevalence of hot flashes appears to differ by race. Studies should be designed to evaluate the hormonal and physiologic implications of these symptoms among women in their late reproductive years. Few of these women had discussed menopause with their physicians. Given the differences in sources of information about menopause, development of culture-specific health education programs should be considered.