Two-thirds of all women will experience hot flashes during menopause. Although menopause hot flashes are not the worst of menopause symptoms, they can still be quite bothersome and discomfiting. Some cases of menopause hot flashes can get rather severe. The menopause hot flashes may last for about 10 minutes or more each time they occur. The menopause hot flashes can get so intense and hot that the feeling borders on pain. Menopause hot flashes may happen several times during a single day or may be spaced out a few times over the week. Menopause hot flashes that occur at night are called night sweats. These can be particularly tiresome as they interrupt your sleep and leave you fatigued the next day since you have not rested enough. Menopause hot flashes do not go away very easily or quickly. These symptoms of menopause will most likely last for at least a full year before it shows any sign of subsiding.
Why Do Menopause Hot Flashes Occur?
No one is sure why menopause hot flashes happen. However, there is a theory that menopause hot flashes have something to do with the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that regulates your body temperature, sleep cycles, and appetite in addition to a host of other detailed tasks that allow your body to function like a well-oiled machine every second of the day and night. Any problem with your hypothalamus can cause problems with your body.
The hypothalamus is informally known as the thermostat of the body. When you go through menopause, your ovaries are, over time, producing less and less estrogen. Estrogen is one of the most important hormones for the smooth functioning of a woman’s body. The lowering levels of estrogen can thus cause the hypothalamus to behave erratically, which may be the reason that menopause hot flashes occur. The hypothalamus may think, for example, that the body has gotten too hot even though it has not. So it sends a signal to the brain, which in turn sends a signal to the body to release the heat and cool the body down. Menopause hot flashes are your body’s heat-releasing mechanism at work.
Risk Factors for Menopause Hot Flashes
It has been observed that some women seem to be at greater risk for menopause hot flashes than others. Although most women will have menopause hot flashes, it does not affect all women with the same intensity and frequency. Women who have the following risk factors are more likely to be strongly affected by menopause hot flashes.
- Being overweight has a massive impact on menopause hot flashes. Women who are obese will have menopause hot flashes more often than their healthy weight counterparts.
- Even if you are at a healthy weight though, you can still be a victim to severe menopause hot flashes if you do not exercise. Researchers are not sure why but being inactive seems to increase the intensity of menopause hot flashes.
- Smoking increases your risk for severe menopause hot flashes that will occur often.
- According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina, women who hit menopause before the age of 52 are at higher risk for strong and frequent menopause hot flashes.
- Stress is one of the major risk factors for menopause hot flashes. The higher your stress levels, the more menopause hot flashes you will have, the longer they will last and the stronger they will be.
Remedies for Menopause Hot Flashes
There are several ways of stopping hot flashes or reducing their intensity. What may work for your sister or friend may not work for you though. You should sit down with your doctor and discuss which of the following methods would work best for you. You may need to use a combination of methods to find relief from menopause hot flashes. Curing menopause hot flashes is near impossible, but you can learn to combat them so they do not take over your life, and you can make changes to influence the intensity of your menopause hot flashes.
Lifestyle Changes for Menopause Hot Flashes
- Develop a simple exercise routine. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of walking three times a week to reduce the effects of menopause hot flashes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to the department store instead of taking the car. Try biking, running, swimming, dancing or yoga. Exercise will not only help with menopause hot flashes but other menopause symptoms as well such as insomnia and depression. Exercise will also reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis and heart disease, both of which you are at higher risk for when you reach menopause.
- Improve your diet. Spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine are known to increase your susceptibility to and the frequency of menopause hot flashes. So avoid these as much as possible. Eat more greens and fruits. Research shows that soy helps with menopause hot flashes as it contains natural estrogen resources. So you can try adding some soy milk to your breakfast cereal or make a soy patty for your burger. Also try eating a low-fat, low-carb diet. This will help not only with menopause hot flashes but also to avoid putting on weight around your middle – another symptom of menopause.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases the severity of other menopause symptoms besides hot flashes, in addition to raising your risk for thousands of other health conditions. Your body will thank you if you stop.
- Dress appropriately in preparation for menopause hot flashes. Stick to cotton clothing or other light materials like linen or rayon. Avoid wearing silk or wool and try to not wear synthetic materials either. Wear layers of clothing so that you can take them off as the menopause hot flashes hit. For example, you can wear a tube top, then a T-shirt, then a formal shirt and lastly a jacket. This way, you can strip down to the tube top when the menopause hot flashes plague you and dress right back up when the worst is over. If you are prone to night sweats, wear cotton nighties or pajamas. And make sure those bed sheets are cotton too.
- Try taking a cold shower before bed. This may not stop your menopause hot flashes, but the episodes may not be bad enough to wake you from sleep.
- Lower the thermostat. Most of us will increase the temperature in our homes to get warm and toasty. But when you suffer from menopause hot flashes, it’s time to lower the temperature in your home in an attempt to find relief from menopause hot flashes.
- Do not be shy to stick your head and hands in a freezer when experiencing menopause hot flashes. The relief you experience will overshadow any silliness you might feel.
- Since stress has a drastic impact on menopause hot flashes, you can greatly reduce the intensity of your menopause hot flashes simply by learning how to manage your stress. Some methods of dealing with stress include yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, and hypnosis. You can also try getting a relaxing massage once a week or do some visualization exercises.
- When it comes to dealing with menopause hot flashes, you first have to identify the triggers for your menopause hot flashes. Different things trigger menopause hot flashes in different women. For some it may be the foods that they eat which contain caffeine or are spicy. For others it may be smoking or using a sauna or hot tub or a stressful situation. Keep a record of what you were eating or what you were doing when you experienced your menopause hot flashes. Pretty soon, you will be able to see a pattern which will help you point to exactly what seems to bring on your menopause hot flashes. Then all you have to do is avoid those triggers to prevent menopause hot flashes.
Medical Treatments for Menopause Hot Flashes
- HRT or hormone replacement therapy is the most common remedy for menopause hot flashes. This includes injecting or taking oral supplements of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This can greatly help to reduce menopause hot flashes. However, there are many side-effects and drawbacks to this method and it is thus not recommended unless the menopause hot flashes are unbearable and no other remedy is working. If you must choose hormone replacement therapy, make sure that it is only for a short period of time with the lowest dose needed to reduce menopause hot flashes.
- Low doses of birth control pills can also help with menopause hot flashes. But this is not a long-term solution and other methods should be sought to reduce menopause hot flashes.
- Certain anti-depressant like Effexor (brand name for venlafaxine) or Prozac (brand name for fluoxetine) also help to decrease menopause hot flashes. But these can also cause unpleasant side-effects like weight gain and severe nausea.
- There are some medications that are used to treat high blood pressure or seizures that are known to have some effect in placating menopause hot flashes. But like the other medical remedies for menopause hot flashes, they can have side-effects ranging from dizziness to constipation.
Natural Remedies for Menopause Hot Flashes
If you prefer to keep away from medication and conventional methods for menopause hot flashes, it’s good for you. There is no dearth of natural remedies for menopause hot flashes so you will not be missing anything if you choose a natural approach. In fact, natural remedies sometimes work much better than those offered by pharmaceutical companies. However, keep in mind that just like the conventional relief methods for menopause hot flashes, some of the following remedies may work and some may not.
- Some women who are brave enough to try acupuncture have found that it brings great relief from menopause hot flashes. However, you have to give this method a fighting chance. One session of acupuncture is not going to make much of a difference to change your mind. Go for a couple of sessions a week for at least a month to see considerable results.
- There are several herbs that can help to alleviate the worst of menopause hot flashes. Having a hard time accepting that herbs can help with menopause hot flashes? Well, what do you think was used before the advent of pharmaceutical companies? And just because pill-popping is easier and more prevalent does not mean that herbs are any less effective. Depending on where you live and the vegetation that is indigenous to your region, there may be different herbs that can help you with your menopause hot flashes. Black cohosh in particular is a herb that is widely used in the treatment of menopause hot flashes as well as other symptoms of menopause. Try to find a herbalist if possible or speak with someone at your local health food store for local herbs that can help with your menopause hot flashes.
- Apple cider vinegar is also widely recommended to help alleviate menopause hot flashes.
- Vitamins E and B complex can helps with menopause hot flashes.
- There are several all-natural supplements that are designed to combat menopause symptoms like menopause hot flashes.
- Evening primrose oil is another natural remedy for menopause hot flashes.
Whatever remedy you choose to manage your menopause hot flashes, just be sure to discuss it with your doctor or health care provider before going ahead as there may be side-effects that you are unaware of, or it may not be safe for you in particular to employ some of the methods.