How Does Menopause Affect Iron Levels In My Blood
If you are still having periods as you go through menopause, you may continue to be at risk of a low iron level. This is especially true if your bleeding is heavy or you spot between periods. This can lead to anemia. Talk with your doctor about the amount of iron thats right for you. Good sources of iron include spinach, beans, and meat. Your doctor may also suggest that you take an iron supplement.
Causes Of Hot Flashes
Theres still some confusion among scientists about what exactly causes hot flashes.
During perimenopause and after, its believed that hot flashes are the result of decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone production.
The lack of estrogen misleads your hypothalamus, which is often considered the bodys thermostat, into believing that your body temperature is far too hot.
Hot flashes are the bodys way of getting rid of that imagined heat. Your heart rate increases, blood vessels widen, and sweat glands perspire to bring your body temperature down.
Anxiety can lead to hot flashes through a somewhat different mechanism, by exciting the sympathetic nervous system and releasing stress hormones like cortisol, increasing your body temperature.
Its part of the bodys fight or flight response, artificially brought on by anxiety, even when youre in no immediate danger.
Sharons Hot Flushes Start From Her Toes Travelling As A Tremendous Heat Through Her Body
What happened with me the very first signs I had was around about a year ago when I started to experience hot flushes. And they became so bad at one stage that I would be stripping off in front of people just literally ripping my clothes off to the extent that I had to go somewhere private just to cool right the way down. If I could bottle it, Id make a fortune. Right okay, basically what happens and I cant describe them, its all of a sudden you are totally overcome by a traumatic, tremendous heat inside. Not outside, because you can feel cold outside. But a tremendous heat and it literally starts from your toes and it works right the way throughout your body and you know its travelling. Have you ever tasted Southern Comfort? Have you tasted a little Southern Comfort and as it gets down to your throat and then all of a sudden it sort of just hits your chest. And as it hits your chest, it sort of, I dont know what it does, but it warms up your body. Well you can imagine that happening, not drinking but that is a flush to me and I always used to think Oh I wish I could have them when Im working outside, when Im cold. And switch them on but you cant, theyll come anytime.How often do you get them? Oh gosh, I dont know, I mean my husband could probably pin point it more if Im with him all day long, ten, fifteen, twenty times a day.
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Other Changes During Menopause
The loss of estrogen during menopause can cause changes in the vaginal and vulvar skin. These changes can result in vaginal dryness, burning and discomfort, or painful intercourse. Most women need a lubricant.
There are many different formulations, but silicone-based lubricants are best. Be aware that most over-the-counter lubricants contain preservatives, which can cause irritation. A preservative-free silicone lubricant or natural product, such as extra virgin olive oil or organic unrefined coconut oil, can also work.
Many women also experience painful spasms of the interior pelvic muscles, called vaginismus. Specialized physical therapy is a very effective treatment. Our center has a group of female physical therapists who are specially trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
Menopause Study Finds Four Different Patterns Of Hot Flashes
The hot flashes and night sweats of menopause don’t play out the same for all women, new research shows.
Almost 80 percent of women do get hot flashes, night sweats or both during menopause, the researchers found. But the timing of these symptoms and how long they last appear to vary a great deal, with factors such as body weight, race, education and dietary habits tending to predict the patterns.
“We used to think these symptoms lasted from three to five years, right around the time of the final menstrual period,” said senior study author Rebecca Thurston. She is director of the Women’s Biobehavioral Health Lab at the University of Pittsburgh.
“We now know that these symptoms persist for far longer — typically seven to 10 years — and occur at different times for different women,” she added.
Thurston’s team followed nearly 1,500 women as they transitioned through menopause, tracking them for a median of 15 years. Each year, the women reported their symptoms. Four groups of symptom patterns emerged.
The patterns included: early symptom onset, beginning 11 years before the final menstrual period and declining after menopause onset of symptoms near the final period with a later decline early onset with high frequency of symptoms and persistently low frequency of symptoms.
When the researchers looked more closely, they found that factors such as race, education, weight and health habits played a role in the patterns.
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Common Hot Flash Triggers
There are four primary categories of hot flash triggers – food and beverages, environment, lifestyle, and emotions. Some factors are well-known and studied by researchers, while others are not as well understood. In your diary, write down the triggers that apply to you. When you have a hot flash, review the list and make a note of any of the triggers you think may have sparked the hot flash.
Donnas Night Sweats Are Like Being In A Tropical Climate She Has Them Two To Three Times A
I very rarely have them in the day, I usually have them at night, just before going to sleep and its just extraordinary rush of energy, and breaking out in a complete sweat, can sweat right through your night clothes, even into the sheets. I dont actually mind it in a way. I guess if I hadnt known about it I might have found that quite disturbing, but actually my sisters been going through that prior to me so I was quite aware in a way. But in some ways its quite nice because Ive always been a person whos cold in bed at night, now I feel like Ive got my own hot water bottle to keep me warm at night.Did you have to change the bedding and your clothes at night when it happened?Sometimes. Yeah, sometimes. And how did that affect your partner?Hes just kind of curious actually. Yeah, hes asking questions, hes asked me like, What does that feel like? I said I thought it was a bit like having a panic attack, something that happens, that you dont really have any control over.Can you describe it?Its really, I find it really hard to describe but I guess it would be like being in a tropical climate, a kind of clamminess and sweating, and its not, I dont find it particularly unpleasant, actually.How long does it last?Well it comes and goes, its like waves of heat so they might last a few minutes at a time, and then it kind of recedes and then it,How many times a night?For me, two or three.
Coping with hot flushes and night sweats
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How Does Menopause Affect Heart Health
People are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause. It also could be that other health issues that are more common as people get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. It also helps to stay active and maintain an appropriate weight.
What Causes A Hot Flash
Hot flashes occur when estrogen levels in the body drop. Estrogen is a hormone that is responsible for the regulation of the reproductive system in people with a uterus.
Falling estrogen levels affect the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls appetite, body temperature, hormones, and sleep patterns. The hypothalamus is sometimes called the bodys thermostat because of the role it plays in regulating body temperature.
A drop in estrogen levels can cause the hypothalamus to get mixed signals. If it senses that the body is too warm, it prompts a chain of events to cool the body down: The blood vessels dilate, blood flow is increased to the surface of the skin, and heart rate may increase as the body tries to cool off. Some people experience a chilled feeling after a hot flash.
Most hot flashes are caused by hormonal changes, but they can also be related to other health conditions, substances, and even certain treatments or medications.
Other things that can cause hot flashes include:
- Thyroid issues
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Q: How Can A Woman Manage Hot Flashes
A: Luckily, several simple measures can successfully reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Often, the key to managing hot flashes is identifying and avoiding the factors that trigger an episode.
Such hot flashes triggers include warm environments, constricting clothing, hot or spicy drinks and foods, stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes.
Stress reduction, exercise, and a healthy diet can also go a long way toward managing hot flashes during menopause.
If these management techniques are ineffective, there are further steps that can be taken to rid one’s self of hot flashes and live in comfort once again. Keep reading to learn more about these treatment options.
Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life.
- hormone replacement therapy tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP may refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms do not improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
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Will I Still Enjoy Sex After Menopause
You should still be able to enjoy sex after menopause. Sometimes, decreased sex drive is related to discomfort and painful intercourse. After treating the source of this pain , many women are able to enjoy intimacy again. Hormone therapy can also help many women. If you are having difficulties enjoying sex after menopause, talk to your healthcare provider.
Hot Flashes And Your Heart
Timing is everything at least when it comes to the relationship between hot flashes and heart disease. In a study published last year in the journal Menopause, researchers looked at menopause symptoms and heart disease risk in 60,000 women participating in the Womens Health Initiative Observational Study . They found that hot flashes that happen at the time of menopause are not necessarily indicative of heart disease. However, this is a complicated situation, says Cynthia Stuenkel, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Diego and co-author of the book Menopause Practice: A Clinicians Guide.
The WHI-OS indicated that women who experience their first hot flashes early in menopause actually have a slightly lowerrisk of heart attack than other women, while those who have hot flashes later in the transition have a slightly increased risk. Worse still, that risk may get stronger as the years go by.
“Hot flashes that start when youre older, past menopause, are linked to heart disease,” Stuenkel says.
Weight may also be a factor, she adds. Women who are obese seem to be more likely to have hot flashes, and these women are also at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers because of their obesity. Losing weight seems to reduce hot flashes for many women, just as it ultimately reduces the risk of these other chronic diseases.
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What Can You Do
Stay cool. At night, a “chill pillow” filled with water or other cooling material might help. Use fans during the day. Wear lightweight, looser-fitting clothes made with natural fibers such as cotton.
Try deep, slow abdominal breathing . Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening, and when a hot flash starts.
Plant estrogens, found in soy products, may have weak estrogen-like effects that could cut hot flashes. Doctors recommend you get your soy from foods like tofu and edamame rather than supplements. Some studies suggest black cohosh may be helpful for 6 months or less. Botanicals and herbs may have side effects or change how other medications work, so ask your doctor first.
What Causes The Menopause
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries , some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Page last reviewed: 29 August 2018 Next review due: 29 August 2021
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Q: Can Other Conditions Cause Hot Flashes
A:Yes. In addition to menopause-related hormonal changes, some medical conditions can also cause hot flashes. In some cases, it is not always safe to assume that hot flashes are caused by menopause. This is particularly true for women who are not likely going through menopause or for those who have other unusual symptoms.
- Gonadotropin analogues
Symptoms Of The Menopause
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.
Common symptoms include:
- reduced sex drive
- problems with memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around 4 years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
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Buyer Beware: Unproven Nonscientific ‘treatments’ For Hot Flashes
You may have heard about black cohosh, DHEA, or soy isoflavones to treat hot flashes. These products are not proven to be effective, and some carry risks such as liver damage.
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in some cereals, vegetables, and legumes , and herbs. They may work in the body like a weak form of estrogen, but they have not been consistently shown to be effective in research studies, and their long-term safety is unclear.
Always talk with your doctor before taking any . Currently, it is unknown whether these herbs or other “natural” products are helpful or safe to treat your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms. The benefits and risks are still being studied.
Studying The Neuroscience Of Hot Flashes
Recently, some very cool research on hot flashes was done in mice, and they found that the KISS1 neurons, kiss isn’t that cool, KISS1 neurons that are part of the brain that make up the ovaries and testes work, so these KISS1 neurons make the ovaries and testes work, actually have their feet on the ground in the part of the brain that controls temperature.
These KISS1 neurons in mice work the same way that those neurons work in humans. Activating KISS1 neurons initiated a fast rise in the mouse’s skin temperature followed by a drop in core body temperature. The same symptoms occurred in male and female mice. Removing the female mouse’s ovaries made this temperature swing worse. We know that men that had their testes removed or who take medication for prostate cancer that makes the testes stop working can have hot flashes.
Now, we don’t know if the mice who experienced these changes in their body temperature experienced distress, but some other studies suggest that they seek out cooler places in their cages. We don’t know if they have spikes in anxiety or irritability, or if they’re having hot flashes and they’re getting angry, but that would be an interesting experiment to do.
Hot flashes at menopause may have more complex neuron functions than just KISS1, and about 15 percent of normal women never have hot flashes with menopause. So it’s complicated. But understanding some of the brain’s mechanisms might help us to think about new therapies.
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What Does A Hot Flash Feel Like
What is a hot flash?
A hot flash is an intense feeling of heat that comes on suddenly and isnt caused by hot weather. When it happens, your face, neck, and chest turn red and warm, and youll break out in a sweat.
Hot flashes are most likely to happen when youre in menopause, but other medical conditions can cause them, too. When hot flashes wake you up from sleep, theyre called night sweats. Heres what you need to know.
Physiological Changes During A Hot Flash
Thermography provides a visual snapshot of the skin surface manifestation of the pattern of thermoregulatory changes during a hot flash and provides insights into underlying physiological changes . One can see the skin areas that warm during the hot flash and cool as the hot flash subsides.
graphically illustrates some of the primary physiological changes that occur during a hot flash . Sensation is a subjective rating of the sense of hot flash intensity on a scale of 010 . At the onset of a hot flash, there is a sudden increase in sweating. Heart rate increases anywhere from 5 to 25 beats/min. Cutaneous vasodilation occurs and blood flow to the skin increases, evident in an increase in finger skin temperature. With the sudden and rapid increase in heat loss , internal body temperature drops. The forehead temperature also cools given the sweating and subsequent evaporative cooling that occurs. These physiological phenomena can be reliably measured in the laboratory . These are labor-intensive studies and are not appropriate for clinical trials of various hot flash treatments that involve ambulatory, free living individuals. For this purpose, portable monitors that record changes in sweating, as measured by changes in the electrical conductivity of the skin , are used to correlate subjective reports of hot flash occurrence with this objective physiological change.
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