About 75% of peri- and postmenopausal women have vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats; however, some women experience more distress or “bother” in response to these symptoms. A new research study suggests that certain personality traits may affect how women experience these uncomfortable symptoms.

Researchers found that women with high levels of self-compassion experienced hot flashes; however, the hot flashes interfered much less in their daily lives. Women with high levels of self-compassion also reported lower levels of depressive symptoms.

What exactly is self-compassion? Here self-compassion was defined as being kind to oneself, rather than judgmental; feeling a common humanity, rather than isolation; and being mindful, rather than obsessing over personal weaknesses or imperfections.

While this finding might help explain why some women are more distressed than others when experiencing hot flashes, more research is needed to determine if there are interventions which could target and modify these personality traits and, in this way, help women to better tolerate their symptoms.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Brown L, Bryant C, Brown VM, Bei B, Judd FK.  Self-compassion weakens the association between hot flushes and night sweats and daily life functioning and depression.  Maturitas. 2014 Aug;78(4):298-303.