Hot menopausal flushes can strike at any time of the day or night and are often accompanied by sudden and excessive sweating. The personal and unpredictable heat wave can cause significant sleep disturbance and impact on work, family life and the quality of a woman’s day.
What causes hot flashes?
Everybody has what’s called a thermoneutral zone – this is the core body temperature range where we, and our bodies, feel most comfortable. When our core body temperature goes over the top limit of our thermoneutral zone we start to sweat, and when it goes under, we start to shiver.
Scientists are still not entirely sure why, but women going through menopause have a greatly reduced thermoneutral zone. In other words, the temperature range between sweating and shivering trigger points is greatly reduced. It’s associated with the depletion of estrogen that typically happens when women go thorough menopause, but the mechanics of it are not fully understood.
It’s believed that due to this narrowing of the thermoneutral zone, slight changes of ambient temperature may cause the body’s thermostat – the hypothalamus – to assume the body is too hot, and so it creates a sweating event to help cool the body down. Cue, the hot flush.
What does a menopausal hot flush feel like?
Hot flushes can feel like an intense heat or burning sensation emanating from inside the body. Instant sweating and reddening of the skin is commonly reported and some women also experience chills immediately after a hot flush.
Flushes are usually concentrated around the face, neck and chest, however it’s not uncommon for the whole body to feel extremely warm.
Most hot flushes from menopause last between 1-5 minutes however some women report they can last up to an hour.
When will the hot flushes stop?
Every woman experiences menopausal symptoms differently – some will never experience hot flushing at all, while others endure them for as long as 20 years. Most women will experience hot flushes between 1-5 years from the first onset.
87 percent of menopausal women who participated in a U.S. study reported they had hot flushes at least once a day, while a third of participants reported 10 or more a day.
How to treat and manage hot flushes
Smoking and obesity can increase the intensity and frequency of hot flushes, therefore quitting smoking and losing weight may help alleviate symptoms for some women.
Interestingly, women from Japan and China report the lowest incidence of hot flushes and women with dark skin report the highest. Scientists still don’t know why or how ethnicity plays a role in the prevalence of hot flushing. It may have to do with diet or lifestyle, or it simply may be a case of genetics. The jury is still out on this one.
Some women have reported a reduction in hot flushes after increasing their daily exercise while others claim to have found benefit in acupuncture and even hypnosis.
There are also some prescription drugs that have been shown to reduce hot flushes in 40-60% of cases. These drugs include medications usually prescribed to treat depression, chronic pain and high blood pressure.
However, the treatment that enjoys the highest rate of success in reducing the severity and frequency of hot flushes is Hormone Replacement Therapy. This kind of therapy seeks to replace the hormones that start to deplete when a woman begins menopause.
According to the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Hormone Replacement Therapy, “… reduces hot flushes and night sweats by around 80 per cent, making it the most effective treatment currently available.”
Note from National Custom Compounding: We specialise in hormone replacement therapies that have been developed specifically for the unique hormonal requirements of the individual. We work closely with integrative doctors to develop long term treatment plans designed to improve a woman’s comfort and quality of life.
For more information on how to treat hot flushes, contact National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or [email protected]