Specializing in hormone imbalances in my practice brings in many women that are struggling with issues occurring in menopause. Two of the most common complaints are hot flashes and night sweats. Nearly 75% of women begin to struggle with these issues in perimenopause which is the years leading up to menopause, usually ages 40-50. For some women, hot flashes and night sweats can continue for up to 10 years or longer after menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
A hot flash occurs due to increased blood circulation in the skin of the head and neck. This creates the heat, redness, and possible perspiration commonly associated with hot flashes. When this occurs at night, during sleep, it is referred to as “night sweats”, which is usually followed by a chill that results in a constant battle with the covers!
The intense heat of hot flashes often begins to occur when estrogen levels decline and the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) begin to increase, commonly occurring in perimenopause and menopause. Besides hormonal changes, anxiety and tension also magnify hot flashes and many women find that hot drinks and wine do the same.
Hot flashes can appear suddenly, often at the most inopportune time and in the case of some women, they may feel them coming on slowly as the heat builds.
During a hot flash many women experience:
- tingling sensations in the fingers
- an increase in heart beat
- a sudden warming sensation in the skin
- facial redness or flushing
- sweating, especially in the upper body
Hot flashes often come on suddenly but the duration of them can greatly vary from a few seconds to more than 10 minutes. The average hot flash last for approximately 1 minute.
How often they occur also varies from a few per day to several times per day and night. They can also subside for weeks or months and then return without warning.
Common Hot Flash Triggers
Trigges will vary from woman to woman but some of the most common triggers include:
- Caffeine – caffeinated beverages cause an increase in heart rate which can create heat in the body and result in hot flashes.
Tip - try iced decaffeinated coffee or infused herbal teas to keep cool.
- Spicy Foods – many spicy foods will have the same effect as alcohol resulting in vasodilation which can trigger hot flashes.
Tip - Avoid hot pepper-infused dishes, especially dishes containing cayenne pepper which seems to have the most intense effect.
- Red Wine – alcohol increases blood vessel vasodilation which increases heat in the body.
Tip - skip the alcohol and toast with a sparkling water with a lime wedge.
- Hot Beverages – introducing a hot drink into the body will cause a systemic warming and could result in a hot flash. This is particularly true with women over the age of 65 as the tolerance to temperature fluctuations decrease.
Tip - keep cool with cold drinks.
- Hair Appliances – the heat used with hair appliances will often trigger a hot flash.
Tip - dry your hair in stages and keep cool while styling your hair. Opt for a wash and wear cut to avoid hair appliances all together.
- Hot Weather – overheated skin can cause hot flashes.
Tip - dress in layers, stay in the shade and carry a fan in your purse.
- Smoking – according to studies smokers experience more hot flashes than non-smokers.
Tip - quit for good.
- Hot Baths – warming the body from the inner core while soaking in a hot bath or hot tub is likely to induce a hot flash.
Tip - Avoid baths and take shorter showers or finish the shower with cooler water. Be sure to dry off and cool down completely before getting dressed.
- Too Much Clothing – synthetic, non-breathable clothing such as nylon, spandex or polyester will keep body heat from escaping, triggering a hot flash. Clothing around the neck such scarves and turtle necks will also create internal heat and lead to hot flashes.
Tip - dress in layers so you can quickly adjust when needed.
- Emotions – an emotional response causes increase blood circulation to the surface of the skin, triggering a hot flash.
Tip - keep stress low, do regular deep breathing exercises and make a mindful effort to not over react.
The Good News
While hot flashes and night sweats are the most common complaints in perimenopause and menopause, there are many safe, quick and effective remedies to cool the heat.
The first recommendation is to get the proper comprehensive hormone testing to determine the level of hormonal imbalance(s). The Complete Female Hormone Panel (https://store.drcobi.com/collections/lab-testing/products/hormone-test-k...) is one of the most popular testing panels to get done year after year at my clinic for a reason! This type of testing helps to uncover even the subtlest imbalances which could be creating monumental issues. The combination of blood and saliva testing covers all relevant hormones.
Hormones included in this panel are:
- Sex Hormones - Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone
- Adrenal (Stress) Hormones-Cortisol and DHEA
- Thyroid Hormones- TSH, free T4, free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies
Beyond testing there are many safe and effective natural remedies that do not contain any hormones that help to eliminate hot flashes and night sweats quickly. One remedy that remains a patient favourite is Estrovera.
Estrovera is a natural non-hormone containing option demonstrated in clinical studies to significantly reduce menopausal hot flashes compared to placebo. These results are comparable to low-dose hormone therapies.
- Clinically shown to dramatically reduce the number of daily menopausal hot flashes
Clinically demonstrated to relieve a wide range of other menopausal symptoms including:
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor mood, irritability and anxiety
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Heart complaints (e.g., racing)
- Joint and muscle complaints
- Urinary tract symptoms
- Vaginal dryness