What are Hot Flashes?

Are you feeling night sweats, hot flashes and fatigue? You will be happy to learn these are common symptoms of menopause. You are not alone. 

Over 80 percent of our American Women experience hot flashes during the menopause transition. A hot flash means you have a sudden wave of extreme warmth and heat occurring any time, any place without warning causing heavy sweating. Hot flashes can last 30 seconds or longer. The frequency of hot flashes varies daily, hourly, monthly, or yearly, depending on, you guessed it, YOU.

Dr. John Lee tested natural progesterone with his patients for over 20 years. He found that natural progesterone, without any estrogen could reduce the side effects of menopause and perimenopause, bring the endocrine systems back in balance, and bones could start to grow. A natural progesterone cream like Wise Essentials natural progesterone cream from wild yam as a solution can restore equilibrium without ERT’s jeopardy. It helps create hormone balance.

The exact cause of hot flashes is uncertain. Several factors contribute to hot flashes— the ratio between estrogen and progesterone, being thin or not, a high fat diet, stress, weather, alcohol, caffeinated foods like coffee and chocolate, spicy foods and emotions. Foods high in phytoestrogens like soy may also reduce your hot flashes.

There are many theories and studies about the causes of hot flash, sometimes called flushes. According to Penny Wise Budoff, M.D., in her book No More Hot Flashes, “Each hot flush is related directly to a surge in LH production by the pituitary.” A direct cause of hot flashes is hypothalamic factors regulating the releasing LH. The LH itself does not cause hot flashes. “This ties in hot flushes with hormonal disturbances in the hypothalamus, the heat-regulatory center of the brain.”

Susan Lark, M.D., suggests another hypothesis. She says that hot flashes occur when the estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus do not receive enough stimulation. In response, they may release a chemical substance that produces the hot flashes and other blood vessel reactions. The hypothalamus normally controls the body’s temperature.

Dr. John Lee believes, “Hot flushes are not a sign of estrogen deficiency, per se, but are due to heightened hypothalamic activity (vasomotor ability), secondary to low levels of estrogen and progesterone which, if raised, would produce a negative feedback effect to the pituitary and hypothalamus. Once progesterone levels are raised, estrogen receptors in these areas become more sensitive and hot flushes usually subside. The validity of this mechanism can be tested by measuring FSH and LH levels before and after adequate progesterone supplementation.”

Finnish researchers noted that Japanese who ate a traditional diet low in fat and high in soy foods such as tofu and miso excreted as much as 1000 more phytoestrogens in their urine as American women. This means that Japanese women consume considerably more phytoestrogens in their diet—one reason why hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms may be less frequent in that country.

Lafayette Clinic and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit used a breathing technique to relieve hot flashes consisting of slow deep breaths. This method reduced 33 women’s hot flashes by 50 percent over a 24 hour period. The theory behind this therapy is breathing lowers the arousal of the central nervous system that normally occurs at the beginning of a hot flash. You can do this simple technique at home—take six to eight deep breaths per minute all the way down to your chest or abdomen. To prevent hot flashes from occurring in the first place, practice breathing this way twice a day for 15 minutes each time. (16)

If hot flashes drench you, dress in layers using natural fibers that breathe. This way you won’t get as hot and can remove clothing as the flash heats you up. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can decrease the severity of hot flashes. Drinking plenty of water may help, too.

* From the book, It is not in your head, it's your hormones Current ebook The Menopause Messenger. 

*This is for education only. It is not intended to treat, prevent or cure medical disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult a health care professional.