Approximately three quarters of all women in perimenopause (time before actual menopause) experience hot flashes and night sweats for anywhere for six months to five years. The feeling of intense heat and sweats can happen suddenly or some may feel it coming but the intensity and timeline varies from one person to another. Even though the exact cause of hot flashes/night sweats is not clear, it happens most likely due to hormonal changes in the body. For some women, they barely notice it while for others, the intensity may affect their quality of life in a negative way therefore, it is important to see if there are triggers that causes hot flashes/night sweats. Some of the common triggers are: drinking alcohol, smoking cigarette, caffeinated drinks, stress/anxiety, eating spicy foods, and wearing tight-fitted clothing. If you already don’t know your triggers, it might be a good idea to start a journal with things including things you were doing, eating, feeling, or wearing when each hot flash began. Doing so might help you see a pattern and avoid those specific triggers in the future to provide some relief with hot flashes.
Additionally, sip on ice water at the start of hot flash, wear cotton clothes and use cotton bed linens, and keep an ice pack handy with you. Many women have found hormonal replacement therapy, medications to be useful in managing hot flashes/night sweats. Do not start anything on your own without talking to your physician, discuss about its pros/cons and if you are the right candidate for it. Some small studies have shown acupuncture to be somewhat helpful in managing hot flashes/night sweats if you want to take this approach. Exercise also helps decrease these symptoms, as they increase endorphins and lowers the amount of circulating follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Certain herbs have shown to be beneficial in managing hot flashes/night sweats such as dong quai, licorice root, chasteberry (vitex) and black cohosh but please consult with a herb specialist or your physician as I am not aware of your medical conditions and medications you are on.
I need you to not get discouraged and remember that no two women are alike and everyone reacts reacts differently to hot flash treatments. If one method doesn’t seem to work for you, another might so please continue trying different approaches and communicate frequently with your healthcare provider about your progress and treatment options.