As women approach menopause, we may experience a range of symptoms including hot flushes (flashes). These can be uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life. In this article we will look at some of the causes of hot flushes and how to relieve them.
The primary cause of hot flushes in peri-menopause is hormonal changes. As women approach menopause, their levels of oestrogen and progesterone begin to fluctuate. These hormonal changes can affect the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates body temperature. When the hypothalamus is affected, it can cause hot flushes.
Stress can also be a contributing factor to hot flushes in peri-menopause. When women are stressed, their bodies release adrenaline, which causes the blood vessels to dilate and increase blood flow to the skin. This can cause a sudden feeling of warmth and lead to a hot flush.
Certain lifestyle factors can also contribute to hot flushes in peri-menopause. For example, smoking, alcohol consumption, and caffeine intake can all trigger hot flushes. Additionally, wearing tight clothing or being in a hot environment can also trigger a flush to occur.
Black cohosh is a herb thqt has been used for centuries to treat menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes. it is believed to work by regulating the hypothalamus, which controls body temperature. Interesting a study comparing the efficacy of both black cohosh and evening primrose oil was conducted in 2018. Both herbs were effective in reduction of severity of hot flashes and improvement of the quality of life, but it seems that black cohosh is more effective than primrose oil because it was able to reduce the number of hot flashes too.
soy contains phytoestrogens, which have a similar chemical structure to our own natural oestrogen. So when they are eaten, they can also behave in similar ways to oestrogen. Since our own oestrogen levels fall dramatically in menopause – causing the bothersome symptoms – this is where eating phytoestrogens may help. Eating soy products, such as tofu or soy milk, may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes.
Flaxseed is another plant-based source of phytoestrogens. It can be added to meals or taken in supplement form. Studies have shown flaxseed to be beneficial in reducing hot flushes. A 2015 investigation corroborated these findings. Researchers gave menopausal women a diet heavy in phytoestrogens, like flaxseed, for 12 weeks. At the end of 3 months, the complaints of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and other menopausal symptoms in the phytoestrogen group significantly diminished. Overall, the authors concluded that supplementing with 5 grams of flaxseed daily might improve the quality of life for menopausal women
Regular exercise can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes. Exercise can also help improve mood and overall health and well-being during peri-menopause. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or swimming each day.
Wear natural fibres as much as possible. Linen, muslin (cheesecloth), and cotton are all examples of fabrics that are breathable and can make a huge difference to how you cope with heat and hot flushes. Baring your arms in the middle of Summer by wearing singlet tops can help with air flow around the armpits, cooling you down on those hot humid days.
Keep your skincare in the fridge. I find I don't wear moisturiser during the day during the Summer months (6-9 months of the year in SE Qld), as if feels suffocating in the extreme humidity. I do try and moisturise at night if I feel I need it. Keep a rosewater toner in your fridge and spray during the day when you feel a flush coming on.