As a woman ages, the number of follicles in her ovaries decrease and they produce fewer hormones. Menopause occurs when the ovaries fail to produce enough hormones to stimulate the monthly growth of the endometrium, and menstrual periods stop permanently. The average age of menopause is 51 years, although this can vary widely.1
Women experience a variety of symptoms due to the hormonal changes associated with menopause, including hot flushes.
Hot flushes are often described as a sudden feeling of heat that appears and spreads throughout your body. You might also experience sweating, palpitations, and flushing of the face. They are uncomfortable and can reduce a confident, self-assured woman into a sweaty, confused mess in no time at all.
The term 'hot flushes' is used in the UK, Australia and New Zealand by women going through the menopause. In the USA, the term 'hot flashes' is used. Both mean exactly the same thing – it’s the most common symptom experienced by women during the menopause.
About 80 percent of menopausal women experience hot flushes. They can appear several years before menopause starts and last for years afterwards. Not all women experience hot flushes, but they are considered a normal part of menopause.2
As the name suggests, hot flushes can be described as a sudden feeling of warmth or heat in the body that usually begins in the head and face and then radiates down the neck to other parts of the body. They usually last only a few minutes, but in some cases, they can continue for up to half an hour.
Women report having to remove clothing and stand in front of the air conditioner or fan to manage them. It can be embarrassing to say the least, with uncontrollable hot flushes abruptly coming out of nowhere. Your face may suddenly go red, beads of sweat may appear on your forehead and run down your face and neck, accompanied by feeling hot and sticky.
Hot flushes may occur on their own but are often accompanied by night sweats or excessive sweating during the day. Hot flushes and sweats can also be accompanied by feelings of nausea, dizziness or a general feeling of being unwell. As hot flushes and sweating during menopause are such prominent symptoms, and frequently occur together, many women going through menopause use the terms 'hot flushes' and 'menopausal sweats' interchangeably. 3
Hot flushes may occur a few times a week, or every few minutes throughout the day.
The root cause of hot flushes is not clear. What is known is that the part of the brain that senses and controls body temperature and other body functions is the hypothalamus. During menopause, oestrogen (aka estrogen) levels fall. Although not fully understood, scientists think this fall in oestrogen causes a glitch in the way the hypothalamus senses body temperature, making it think that you are too hot.
This causes a response designed to cool the body down. More blood goes to the skin (one of the causes of hot flushes is reddening of the skin) and sweat glands start working (menopausal sweats).
Hot flushes can happen without warning throughout the day and night, but can also be triggered by:
Hot flushes affect more than just your body temperature. Their impact can be extremely distressing and can get in the way of you living a normal life. The characteristics of this common menopause symptom are unpleasant, and many women's lives become disrupted. However, symptoms of hot flushes can be navigated successfully with some proactive steps.
Here are some ways in which hot flushes can impact on your life, to help you anticipate and deal with their effects:
Going to a friend's house, visiting a distant relative, attending a meeting, and even going out for a casual dinner can get your nerves firing. This is because you may not know exactly how large the space will be, what the temperature will be set to, what will be served, or what kind of sheets your bed will have.
These details become extremely important for menopausal women. You know that if the food is a bit too spicy, or red wine is offered, or you are not sitting next to a window, you can be hauled into a panic hot flush. This can even lead you to opting out of going out and enjoying yourself altogether.
The nervousness associated with hot flushes can lead to stress, which in turn can lead to tension between you and your loved ones. When you are worried, you can start to lose sight of your connection with others. Your family and friends may not understand what you are going through, so they may become offended when you do not join them in various activities.
Also, they may resist your desire to keep the house in arctic conditions, and be frustrated when you insist. It is important to be clear and open about how you are feeling to avoid misunderstandings and to allow them to empathise.
Extreme body heat generates sweat – sometimes lots of it. Even if you do not consider yourself a sweaty person, you may begin to when hot flushes begin. Don’t despise this side effect too much, though, as this is the very process that cools you down. However, you cannot help the fact that this can be very embarrassing, especially since during menopause your body odour tends to become more potent. Wearing loose, dark-colored layers can help make this less obvious.
Transforming yourself into a walking air conditioner can help you feel more at ease. When you leave your house, try carrying an ice pack, chilled water, several layers (for removing), and an increased determination to remain calm. Adding deep breathing to your routine can help during this time. Since stress can worsen symptoms – including rapid heartbeat and feelings of suffocation – practicing deep, slow breathing every day for 15 minutes can make a difference.5
As menopause symptoms can be so wide-ranging, the best way to prepare for them is to look at all lifestyle aspects:
Other things you can do to keep hot flushes at bay include:
As impactful as they can be, menopausal symptoms don't have to create a disastrous time for women. If reduced hormone levels are causing unpleasant symptoms, treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or even Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapies can be very effective. HRT and other types of medication can also be used to prevent health problems, for example, if a woman has a significantly increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
However, if you are not a candidate for HRT, or simply prefer a natural alternative, there are other options available in the form of herbal supplements. These can help re-balance your system and overcome estrogen dominance, which can have a negative impact on both your weight and sex drive.
Herbs generally take a little longer than Hormone Replacement Therapies to start working, but once they have built up in your system, the results can be very pleasing.
In her book In The Mood Again, Use The Power of Healthy Hormones to Reboot your Sex Life At Any Age, Dr. Genie James recommends waiting four to six weeks for levels to increase. It is good to remember this is a “gradual and gentle approach for rejuvenating your sexuality for life, not for a sexual sprint,” she says.
As an alternative to medications and hormone replacement therapies – which can have negative side effects –women are Increasingly looking to herbal health products like Herbal Ignite for Women. Many years of herbal practice have shown that the herbs in Ignite for Women support women’s reproductive health effectively. It has a number of positive health outcomes, including:
Herbal Ignite for Women is an over-the-counter dietary supplement taken daily with food to support pre-menstrual tension and menopause and to restore hormone levels to a healthy balance. It also helps reduce stress levels and increase libido.
Herbal Ignite for Women contains four key ingredients:
Herbal Ignite has been used successfully by thousands of men and women in New Zealand and Australia to help beat stress and fatigue, boost libido and sexual satisfaction. It is 100% natural and free of unpleasant side effects. It is made in New Zealand to the highest standards, with thorough testing and guarantees of no adulteration or undeclared ingredients.
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Disclaimer. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and does not substitute for the advice provided by your medical professional. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.
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