Hot flashes (also known as hot flushes) are the most common symptoms experienced in the perimenopausal years. You may experience hot flashes prior to menopause, which become more frequent and severe with the onset of menopause.
What are hot flashes?
The term hot flush refers to the sudden onset of reddening of the skin, a feeling of intense body heat and palpitations, followed sometimes by profuse sweating. It lasts from a few seconds to minutes.Flushes tend to be more frequent and severe at night when they are known as night sweats. Not being able to sleep well at night may lead to irritability and depression. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night with your heart pounding, drenched in sweat.
What causes hot flashes?
This is still not well understood, but it is thought to originate from the brain and is related to a decrease in estrogen in the body. The body’s heat releasing mechanisms suddenly become excited which increases blood flow to the skin causing flushing. This is followed by sweating which has a cooling effect.
Although hot flushes are the most common menopausal symptoms, they are not dangerous to your health.
What Can You Do To Relieve Hot Flashes?
- Keep a record of where and when your flushes occur the most and try and avoid those situations. Avoid activities that seem to be associated with flashes.
- Clothing should be light.
- Choose natural fibres like cotton which allow perspiration to evaporate.
- Avoid long sleeves, high necks and tight clothes. Wear clothes that are easy to unbutton
- Keep your rooms cool and well-ventilated at home.
- Stop smoking. It slows down circulation and worsens hot flushes.
- Eat carefully. Avoid sugary spicy and salty food, chocolates, alcohol, tea, cola drinks and large meals. Eat lots of citrus fruits e.g. oranges and grapefruits.
- Both estrogen and progesterone can be used to alleviate hot flashes. Try a natural progesterone cream, ¼ teaspoon twice a day (read Guidelines for using natural progesterone cream).
- Take evening primrose oil or borage oil which contain gamma linoleic acid. It increases the production of prostaglandins which seem to reduce frequency and severity of hot flashes.
- Eat lots of soy e.g. about 60 grams. This can be in the form of soybeans, tempeh, tofu etc. An easier way to get lots of soy is in the form of soy bars and soy shakes.
- Take a good herbal formula for women especially one containing a combination of black cohosh, dong quai, licorice and ginseng. These have a mild estrogen-like activity. Do not use ginseng if you have high blood pressure or asthma.
- Take a good vitamin B complex supplement.
- Take high doses of vitamin E. Up to 1000 international units (IU) have been helpful for some women. You may reduce the dose as flashes subside.
- Take it at the end of a meal as it needs food to be absorbed into your body. It seems to work more effectively when taken with vitamins B and C.
- Use the natural form of vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol), not the man-made form (dl-alpha tocopherol).
- Avoid vitamin E if you have diabetes, hypertension or heart problems.
- Relaxation – this can be difficult during a hot flush. Practice deep breathing and mental imagery which can shorten a hot flush or stop it altogether.
- Regular exercise – This improves the circulation of blood around the body. It also increases the levels of estrogen in the body as well as endorphins (chemicals which act like morphine) which make you feel good. Women who exercise regularly have fewer flashes than those that don’t.
You are unique in every way. There is no magic formula to relieve hot flashes. You may have to try different things before you find a combination that works for you.
Cure hot flashes without estrogen
Finding ways to cure hot flashes without estrogen is one of the concerns that many menopausal women have. Estrogen has been the traditional treatment for hot flashes and other symptoms and signs related to menopause. Recently, women have been looking for alternatives to estrogen because of its widely-publicized side-effects.
In the 1990s, the concept of “estrogen dominance” was introduced by Dr. R. Lee. He suggested that menopausal symptoms are caused by a lack of progesterone rather than estrogen deficiency. As a result, he felt that it was possible to cure hot flashes without estrogen.
The perimenopausal years are usually characterized by irregular periods. This is because ovulation is irregular. As such, the increase in progesterone that occurs in the second half of the cycle is absent. The result is very low progesterone levels.
In addition, if you’re under stress, your body diverts to producing the stress hormone cortisol and cuts down on production of the sex hormones. This accounts for the tiredness and low sex drive associated with stress.
Many of the symptoms you experience at this time may be due to low levels of progesterone leading to estrogen dominance. Progesterone is important:
– for fertility
– it helps new bone growth
– it helps convert fat into energy for your body.
The important thing where good health is concerned is balance. Just adding progesterone may not be the answer. The biggest influence on hormone production and storage is your lifestyle.
- Stress management – Learning how to reduce and manage stress is important for proper hormone balance. (Read How does stress affect health?)
- Diet – A healthy, high fiber, low fat diet is essential. A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement gives your body extra support especially if you’re going through a lot of stress.
- Natural progesterone cream – This has been the source of a lot of controversy. However, recent studies have shown that it actually works. Many women have gotten relief from their symptoms and been able to cure hot flashes without estrogen.
- Natural progesterone cream may be the answer for some (especially combined with other measures like diet and stress management).You may not benefit from over-the-counter preparations if symptoms are very severe. It then becomes important to do a saliva hormone test to check your hormone levels. This may indicate that you need a more concentrated progesterone cream which is only available by prescription. You will have to consult your healthcare provider for this.
- It is important to know that over-the-counter progesterone cream should not be substituted for oral progesterone in if you are using synthetic estrogen/progesterone combination for Hormone Replacement Therapy as the concentration is not high enough to protect against uterine cancer.
- Also, natural progesterone cream should not necessarily be used indefinitely. You can use it to relieve your symptoms until your body adapts to the changes of menopause. After this, you can gradually tail it off as your body achieves a new post-menopausal balance.
It is possible to cure hot flashes without estrogen but remember- what works for one woman may not work for another. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and don’t be afraid to try something new. Most important of all – don’t give up!
Emerita Pro-Gest Natural Progesterone Cream for hot flashes & other and menopause symptoms
- I’ve had …calm, amazingly improved sleep, reduced breast soreness (this was lasting all month long before the cream).
- The first month I used it, absolutely no PMS symptoms at all. My period totally snuck up on me….
- GREAT mood, my PMS is very minimal, PMDD is gone, breast tenderness is minimal, cramps gone, I’ve lost 6 pounds, periods are normal
- My energy level is higher than it has been in years. My periods are back to normal and I haven’t experienced any more hot flashes.
- Worth every cent and no side effects, unlike costly prescription hormones I took in the past