Although menopause is a fact of life for all women, menopause and its symptoms can affect women differently. However, one thing the vast majority of women who are entering menopause have in common is the occurrence of hot flashes. Hot flashes, the most common symptom of menopause, affect more than two-thirds of North American women during the perimenopause period.
Hot flashes are characterized by sudden feelings of warmth, (most commonly in the face, neck and chest) that are not linked to an external source. During a hot flash your skin might redden, similar to if you were blushing. Hot flashes may also cause a temporary increase in heart rate and sweating. When they happen at night, this can lead to night sweats. Although there is clear evidence that hot flashes result from hormonal changes in the body that take place during menopause, the exact cause of hot flashes is not known.
For certain women, hot flashes are nothing but a minor inconvenience. For others, the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes can be overwhelming and take a toll on their quality of life. If you’re in the latter group, there are a number of things we recommend that may help. Eliminate alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods from your diet. Try keeping your house cool and comfortable, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. Feeling overly-stressed or anxious can be a trigger as well. Lastly, avoid smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke.
If you have tried these prevention tips in the past and still experience especially bad hot flashes, there are medications that can potentially help. Hormone replacement therapies (HRT) including estrogen supplements can level out your body’s hormone levels and reduce the incidence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. Other non-hormonal options like Relizen and Brisdelle may also help.
Keep in mind that hot flashes can also be associated with other medical conditions like obesity or diabetes. A visit with your board-certified gynecologist is required to discover the true cause of your symptoms and establish a treatment plan that works best for you. For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more reproductive health tips, news, and updates.