Hot Flashes Years After Menopause
New long-term research shows that hot flashes continue, on average, for five years after menopause. More than a third of women can experience hot flashes for up to ten or more years after menopause.
A recent study evaluated 255 women in the Penn Ovarian Aging Study who reached natural menopause over a 16-year period. The results indicate that 80 percent reported moderate to severe hot flashes, 17 percent had only mild hot flashes, and three percent reported no hot flashes.
Hot flashes are momentary episodes of heat that can occur with other symptoms including sweating and flushing. Changing hormone levels after cessation of menses are believed to cause hot flashes as well as other menopausal symptoms including insomnia, anxiety, joint and muscle pain, and memory problems. ;Hormone therapy repletes the hormones estrogen and progesterone the body stops making during menopause, and it has been proven an effective treatment for hot flashes.
Source: Ellen W. Freeman, Mary D. Sammel, Richard J. Sanders.;Risk of long-term hot flashes after natural menopause.;Menopause, 2014; 1 DOI:10.1097/GME.0000000000000196
Can Treating Menopause Improve Sleep
Two common menopause treatments include Estrogen Replacement Therapy , which increases estrogen, and Hormone Replacement Therapy , which increases estrogen and progesterone. Both of these treatments have proven effective in relieving menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, insomnia, and mood.
However, HRT poses serious risks for some women, particularly those who have had blood clots, strokes, heart attack, and certain types of cancer. As a result, doctors are recommended to prescribe HRT at the lowest effective dose and only to use it as a short-term treatment. Its important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of HRT, as there are many approaches for managing menopausal symptoms.
Lower doses of antidepressants and SSRIs, including fluoxetine, paroxetine, and venlafaxine, can relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes. Some, like Bazedoxifene, may relieve hot flashes while also increasing sleep quality.
Melatonin, your bodys natural sleep hormone, can also be taken as an over-the-counter medication. Low doses of melatonin improved mood and sleep onset in postmenopausal women. Like estrogen and progesterone, melatonin also .
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also effective in relieving insomnia, including symptoms associated with menopause. In CBT, you work with a trained therapist to recognize the thoughts and behaviors that are negatively impacting your sleep, and learn to replace them with healthier behaviors that promote good sleep.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause
Women may have different signs or symptoms at menopause. Thats because estrogen is used by many parts of your body. As you have less estrogen, you could have various symptoms. Many women experience very mild symptoms that are easily treated by lifestyle changes, like avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes. Some women dont require any treatment at all. Other symptoms can be more problematic.
Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than directly related to menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there isnt a problem, see your doctor if:
- Your periods come very close together
- You have heavy bleeding
- Your periods last more than a week
- Your periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year
Vaginal health and bladder control. Your vagina may get drier. This could make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Or, you could have other health problems, such as vaginal or bladder infections. Some women also find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom. This loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Health Risks
Even if youve found ways to manage your menopause symptoms, its essential to reach out to your doctor to discuss the health risks associated with estrogen loss. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or heart disease, it is especially important to speak with your doctor. Protecting your heart and bone health is one of the best ways to take care of yourself.
Menopause Symptoms: Sleep Issues
Menopause-related sleep problems, including insomnia, are common during this transition in a woman’s life. Insomnia during the menopausal transition can be caused by night sweats, hot flashes that occur at night. Sweating and hot flashes can make it very difficult to sleep. The changes in a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels can also alter her sleep quality.
Relief from Night Sweats
The following tips can help you sleep well if you are having night sweats:
- Use lightweight bedding
- Use a fan in the bedroom
- Wear lightweight, cotton pajamas or gowns
- Use a damp washcloth to cool off your face, and keep one handy at bedside
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What Causes Hot Flashes Other Than Menopause
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.;A multilingual Latina, Cristina’s work has appeared on CNN and its platforms, local news affiliates across the country, and in the promotion of medical journal articles and public health messaging.
Hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, but they can also be caused by a variety of different lifestyle factors or medical conditions, and they are not always a sign of something serious.
A hot flash is a feeling of sudden intense heat on the upper body lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes or longer. The feeling is often joined by other symptoms like sweating, reddening of the skin, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
While there are other possible causes, hot flashes are extremely common when people are going through perimenopause/menopause.
Hot flashes happen when the bodys internal thermostat senses that its too warm. This starts a chain of events where your heart beats faster, your sweat glands spring into action, and the blood vessels that are near the skins surface widen to cool the body off.
Lifestyle Changes And Strategies For Managing Hot Flashes
Many people can manage their hot flashes at home with some strategies. It helps to know what triggers them first.
One way to figure out whats triggering your hot flashes is to keep a symptom journal. Take note of each incident, including which foods you ate before the hot flash.
A symptom journal can help you narrow down your hot flash triggers and determine which lifestyle changes to make to reduce your symptoms and prevent hot flashes. Your doctor can also use the journal to help make a diagnosis.
Lifestyle changes and strategies for managing hot flashes include:
- dressing in layers, even on the coldest days, so you can adjust your clothing to how youre feeling
- sipping ice water at the start of a hot flash
- keeping a fan on while you sleep
- lowering the room temperature
If beta-blockers, hyperthyroidism, or antithyroid medications are causing your hot flashes, there are medications you can use to relieve your symptoms. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the malfunctioning areas of the thyroid gland.
Note that using some of these prescription drugs for hot flashes is considered off-label use.
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Q: What Is A Hot Flash
A:;Hot flashes are the quick bursts of hot skin and often drenching sweat that last anywhere from 30 seconds to about five minutes. Your face and neck may turn red, your heart rate may increase and you will most likely break out in a sweat. Night sweats are the same thing, only youre asleep and are jolted awake by the heat and sweat sensation consuming your body.
These sudden bursts, especially at night, can cause fatigue, irritability and even forgetfulness. For 10 to 15 percent of women, hot flashes are so severe that they disrupt normal functions, such as leading a meeting or sticking to a schedule. If you feel your daily activities are impacted by hot flashes, make sure to speak with your gynecologist.
Black Cohosh For Hot Flashes
Black cohosh is an herbal preparation that is becoming more and more popular in the U.S., and the North American Menopause Society does support the short-term use of black cohosh for treating menopausal symptoms, for a period of up to six months .
Some studies have shown that black cohosh can reduce hot flashes, but most of the studies have not been considered to be rigorous enough in their design to firmly prove any benefit. There also have not been scientific studies done to establish the long-term benefits and safety of this product. Research is ongoing to further determine the effectiveness and safety of black cohosh.
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Is Caffeine A Hidden Cause Of Hot Flashes
In this post you’ll learn the two factors to consider when deciding if caffeine is making your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms worse.
We’ll look at:
- The science and general recommendations for caffeine and menopause symptoms
- What you need to know about the genetic component to caffeine metabolism
- An herbalist’s perspective on caffeine and hormones throughout menopause
Lifestyle Changes To Improve Hot Flashes
Before considering medication, first try making changes to your lifestyle. Doctors recommend women make changes like these for at least 3 months before starting any medication.
If hot flashes are keeping you up at night, keep your bedroom cooler and try drinking small amounts of cold water before bed. Layer your bedding so it can be adjusted as needed. Some women find a device called a bed fan helpful. Here are some other lifestyle changes you can make:
- Dress in layers, which can be removed at the start of a hot flash.
- Carry a portable fan to use when a hot flash strikes.
- Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine. These can make menopausal symptoms worse.
- If you smoke, try to quit, not only for menopausal symptoms, but for your overall health.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. Women who are overweight or obese may experience more frequent and severe hot flashes.
- Try mind-body practices like yoga or other self-calming techniques. Early-stage research has shown that mindfulness meditation, yoga, and tai chi may help improve menopausal symptoms.
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Other Causes Of Hot Flashes
While by far the most common, hormonal changes are not the only cause of hot flashes. Certain medical conditions and medications can sometimes cause a person to experience hot flashes. For this reason, women for whom menopause is unlikely or women with other unexplained symptoms should consult a doctor to rule out these other potential causes of hot flashes.
Diseases That Can Cause Hot Flashes
- Panic disorder
Medications That Can Cause Hot Flashes
When Does Menopause Occur
Although the average age of menopause is 51, menopause can actually happen any time from the 30s to the mid-50s or later. Women who smoke and are underweight tend to have an earlier menopause, while women who are overweight often have a later menopause. Generally, a woman tends to have menopause at about the same age as her mother did.
Menopause can also happen for reasons other than natural reasons. These include:
Premature menopause. Premature menopause may happen when there is ovarian failure before the age of 40. It may be associated with smoking, radiation exposure, chemotherapeutic drugs, or surgery that impairs the ovarian blood supply. Premature ovarian failure is also called primary ovarian insufficiency.
Surgical menopause. Surgical menopause may follow the removal of one or both ovaries, or radiation of the pelvis, including the ovaries, in premenopausal women. This results in an abrupt menopause. These women often have more severe menopausal symptoms than if they were to have menopause naturally.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Menopause
You may be transitioning into menopause if you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes .
- Night sweats and/or cold flashes.
These symptoms can be a sign that the ovaries are producing less estrogen, or a sign of increased fluctuation in hormone levels. Not all women get all of these symptoms. However, women affected with new symptoms of racing heart, urinary changes, headaches, or other new medical problems should see a doctor to make sure there is no other cause for these symptoms.
What Causes Hot Flashes In Men
There are several reasons that hot flashes could occur in men, including prostate cancer treatment known as androgen deprivation therapy; lifestyle causes such as stress, depression, or anxiety; and medical causes like testosterone levels dropping in middle age.
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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
How To Stop Hot Flushes
- See your doctor to make sure there is no underlying medical condition causing your hot flushes, particularly if you’re also suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss or diarrhoea
- Check the listed side effects of all of your current medication. If hot flushes are listed as a side effect then discuss your prescription with your doctor. There may be a suitable alternative, or changing timing or dosage might help
- Keep a food diary. This will help you identify whether certain foods or ingredients are triggers
- Track when you have a hot flush. Write down where you were and what you were doing. This might reveal patterns or environmental factors that are causing them
- Make time for yourself. Scientists have identified a link between hot flushes and stress
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce your alcohol intake and if you are a smoker, quit
- Limiting spicy foods and caffeine
- Reducing the temperature of baths and showers
- Wearing light layers
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Cynthia Managed Her Severe Night Sweats Using A Little Hot Flush Kit She Kept Beside Her Bed
In the early days, I had to get up physically on the hour every hour. It woke me without fail and I had to get out of bed, go into the other room, had a big fan, stand in front of it until I cooled down and then I went back to bed. You do get used to doing that and you do sleep in between. As I got better at managing them I think, I identified that I couldnt drink anything and I couldnt eat curry or Chinese food I got so that I had my little hot flush kit beside the bed. I had a towel and gel pack, sports injury gel pack that had been frozen inside of a pillow case. And Ive got dozens, dozens and dozens, and Ive still got them in a little basket of those little hand fans like youd have on holiday. And I had that beside the bed so when I woke with a hot flush starting, Id grab the towel and slip that underneath me, the gel pack behind my neck and the little fan resting on my chest and Id just lie there like a sack of potatoes until it passed. And then Id chuck it all off and go back to sleep until the next one. And I did sleep. I did get used to being tired but I did sleep in between each hot flush. But they were on the hour.
Other Menopausal Sleep Disruptors
At this stage of life, women can also develop sleep disorders such assleep apnea, which may come from a loss of reproductive hormones like estrogen andprogesterone. These can go undiagnosed because women often attributesymptoms and effects of sleep disorders to menopauseitself.
Postmenopausal women are two to three times more likely to have sleepapnea compared with premenopausal women, Pien says. Before we becomemenopausal, we’re fairly protected, but the protective effect of hormonesseems to be lost with menopause. Furthermore, women often have more subtlesymptoms of sleep apnea than men. Thus, they may be less likely to seekevaluation for sleep apnea. Their health care providers may also be lesslikely to recognize sleep apnea as a possibility, further delayingevaluation and diagnosis of sleep apnea.
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Endocrinology Of Hot Flashes
Since HFs occur in the vast majority of women having natural or surgical menopause, estrogens are clearly involved in their etiology. This is consistent with the fact that estrogen therapy virtually eliminates HFs. However, estrogen reduction alone does not explain the occurrence of HFs because there are no relationships between these symptoms and plasma, urinary, or vaginal levels of estrogens, nor are there differences in plasma levels between women with and without HFs . Additionally, clonidine reduces HF frequency but does not change estrogen levels , and prepubertal girls have low estrogen levels but no HFs.
Therefore, estrogen withdrawal is necessary but not sufficient to explain the occurrence of HFs. A temporal relationship was observed between HFs and luteinizing hormone pulses . However, further work demonstrated that women with isolated gonadotropin deficiency had HFs but no LH pulses , and those with hypothalamic amenorrhea had LH pulses but no HFs. Also, HFs occur in women with LH suppression from GnRH compounds , in women with pituitary insufficiency and hypoestrogenism , and in hypophysectomized women, who have no LH pulses .
Subsequently, an opiate system was hypothesized in the etiology of HFs. Lightman showed that an opiate antagonist reduced HF and LH pulse frequencies, although other research failed to replicate these results . Thus, the evidence for opiate involvement in HFs is inconsistent.