Hot Flushes and Menopause: 6 Common Questions Answered
Hot flushes (or hot flashes) are one of the most common, annoying, and sometimes debilitating, symptoms of menopause or perimenopause (the transition to menopause).
So many of the women who visit me in my Newcastle herbalist and natural therapies clinic have suffered from them.
Menopause can be a confusing time. It is still a topic that is not talked about as often as it should be, so many women have gaps in their understanding of it.
So, I thought I’d share the answers to the questions I am often asked about hot flushes:
1. What are hot flushes like?
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of heat that spreads throughout the body - caused by a change in body temperature.
Hot flushes don’t usually last long – sometimes a few seconds, rarely more than 2 minutes.
Some women’s chest, neck, and face turn very red when having a hot flush. Some women sweat a little, some women sweat a lot, and often you can see beads of perspiration on their forehead.
However, some women don’t show any external physical signs at all.
2. What causes hot flushes in menopause?
During perimenopause and menopause the levels of the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, fluctuate and decrease. These hormonal changes affect the part of the brain responsible for temperature control – the hypothalamus.
Some of us are lucky. Not all women have hot flushes when approaching or going through menopause.
3. Night sweats: Are hot flushes worse at night?
Always – because our hormones swing more drastically at night-time.
But also – because that’s when we are more relaxed and we notice them more.
4. Are there other causes of hot flushes not related to menopause?
Menopause is not the only cause of hot flushes in women. Hot flushes not due to menopause can be caused by:
Other hormones - such as cortisol – which can also affect temperature control
Stress can cause hot flushes as we produce more cortisol when we’re stressed
Some medical conditions
So, it’s always best to consult your GP or a trained herbalist or naturopath to rule out other causes.
5. Will hot flushes ever stop?
For some women hot flushes only last a few months, for others they can last years.
Generally hot flushes do stop as you progress through menopause, but some women can keep getting hot flushes 5-10 years after menopause. Don't be alarmed, they should become more manageable, though.
Hormone levels, stress, medications, and smoking affect the frequency and severity of hot flushes.
Post-menopausal hot flushes should always be followed up with a GP as they could be due to other health conditions.
6. Are there effective natural treatments for hot flushes?
Yes! Please believe me. You don’t have to suffer.
You can get some relief with herbal treatments and other safe, natural approaches - without resorting to hormone-replacement therapy (HRT).
It’s always best to consult a trained herbalist or naturopath rather than self-prescribing herbal treatments. Herbalists have access to treatments not available to the public. We work to find the specific herb and dose that is right for you.
Other natural approaches you can try include:
A healthy diet and regular exercise will help improve symptoms
Discovering and avoiding your triggers. You can use this helpful Hot Flushes Diary Tracker.
Trying some simple day-to-day actions
Are hot flushes affecting your quality of life?
If you can’t seem to get your hot flushes under control, please get some help.
Contact me or call me on 0412 270 033 to make an appointment – or to ask a question. I’m happy to help.