Whether you are already going through menopause or are nearing that stage in your life, you probably know that one of the top symptoms of menopause is hot flashes. Along with night sweats, these can make going about your day-to-day life very uncomfortable. Hot flashes are when a sudden hot feeling spreads up to your chest, face, and neck, and night sweats are the night-time equivalent of this symptom. It’s believed that up to 85 percent of women experience these at some point during menopause, so let’s take a look at why menopausal women struggle with this issue.
The Causes of Hot Flashes
The answer may be due to unopposed estrogen and high cortisol. Ray Peat Ph.D. goes on to say, “despite decreasing oxidative metabolism, estrogen stimulates the adrenal cortex, both directly and indirectly through the brain and pituitary, increasing the production of cortisol. Cortisol, by increasing protein turnover, can increase heat production…Cushing’s syndrome (produced by excessive cortisol) commonly involves flushing and depression, both of which are likely to be related to the decreased action of adrenaline.”
In addition, excess cortisol can interrupt thyroid production. When our cortisol levels are too high during our menopause transition, then our sleep is disrupted, our thyroid hormones get out of balance and we lose the protective role of calming progesterone.
As with any symptom of menopause, the frequency and intensity of hot flashes will vary from woman to woman. Some people find they just happen from time to time, whereas others have them almost daily and find them incredibly disruptive to their life. Finding a way to deal with this symptom of menopause can help to make this stage of your life more bearable.
Coping with Hot Flashes
There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce hot flashes. Everyone will have different triggers, but these may include caffeine, spicy food, alcohol, or smoking. By noticing if any of these trigger hot flashes, you can then cut back on anything that exasperates this issue. We encourage you always to keep cool and dress in layers, so when you are out and about and have a hot flash, you can take layers off easily to cool your body down. If you struggle with night sweats, keep a fan by your bed to cool you down and keep your room temperature as low as possible.
Before bed, we always recommend you take a cool shower, or you could also have one in the day if your body becomes too hot. Reducing your stress levels can also reduce hot flashes, and you may want to look at various stress reduction techniques to minimize this issue. Finally, it’s believed that anyone who is obese or overweight may suffer from more hot flashes, so focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight during menopause.
Hot flashes are incredibly common during menopause, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you are struggling with hot flashes, contact our team today, who will be able to discuss the various ways in which they can assist you with the symptoms of menopause.