“I don’t have hot flashes; I have short, private vacations in tropical-like conditions.” (livebetterwith.com)
Hot flashes. Whew! They’re a powerful force and one of the most common symptoms of menopause. One minute you’re chatting with a child about the week’s schedule; the next minute finds you vigorously pulling back-and-forth on the front of your shirt to create circulation as cheeks flush and your body erupts in a spontaneous – shall we say – “glow?!?”
We recommend visiting this outstanding parody called “Menopause Rhapsody” for your daily dose of entertainment. Then, read on to learn a handful of ways you can minimize the flashes in your life.
Hot Flashes! They’re a THING!
Hot flashes may have started for you in the form of night sweats, one of the other common menopause signs and symptoms. In our waking life, hot flashes are uncomfortable and can be embarrassing – depending on how and where they strike.
The following tips help with hot flashes and may also help to balance some of your other menopause side effects.
1. Avoid the triggers
There are certain situations that trigger hot flashes. The more you can avoid them, the less frequent and intense flashes will be. Some of the most common hot flash triggers are:
- Alcohol (may be time to switch to some mocktails…)
- Spicy foods
- Warm/stuffy environments
- Hot beverages (switch to iced teas and coffees for a while)
Of course, nobody can avoid hot flash triggers entirely, so being prepared is the next best thing.
2. Keep cooling devices in convenient locations
Japanese folding fans (sensus) are a perfect antidote. They can be purchased affordably online or at local Asian markets or dollar stores. They tuck into purses, on tables, or glove compartments. Fans are beautiful, and a series of gentle waves bring gracious relief. Hand-held, battery-operated fans/misters provide a similar cooling effect.
Other things to keep on hand:
- Iced water or other non-alcoholic beverage in an insulated bottle
- Neck cooling scarfs
- Small spray bottles (a spritz and some fanning is like instant A/C)
3. Manage your stress
Stress causes elevated body temperature and perspiration, so it can be a double-whammy when combined with perimenopause (the early phases of menopause) and menopause. The more you can do to manage stress, the less often you experience hot flashes.
Breathing exercises, visualizations, keeping a gratitude journal, and calming busy mind chatter are examples of things you can do to minimize stress levels. Consider downloading one of the stress relief apps recommended by verywellmind.com.
4. Make menopause-friendly lifestyle changes
Diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes are proven ways to reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
- Diet: Speak to your OB/GYN about an anti-inflammatory diet, such as a Mediterranean diet. This automatically cuts out or limits your intake of hot flash-inducing foods such as fatty and processed, salty foods contributing to hot flashes. You can also speak to your doctor about taking supplements that naturally support hormone balance, such as black cohosh, red clover, maca, ginseng, flax, and valerian.
- Exercise: Exercise is an all-around health booster, but the combination of a menopause-friendly diet and daily exercise supports weight management. Overweight and obese women experience more intense menopause symptoms.
- Positive lifestyle choices: Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages and quit smoking. These are holistically healthy changes that also support menopause survival.
These choices also help you manage your weight, which becomes more challenging with the metabolic slowdown that accompanies menopause.
5. Ask about hormone replacement therapy
Some women experience menopause symptoms but can ride the waves of change until they are officially through to the other side. Others have more severe symptoms, and that requires a more serious approach.
The continuing innovations in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) make this a safe way to manage menopause symptoms. The key is to ensure qualified medical professionals monitor your hormone balance and your progress and that there is a plan for eventually ceasing HRT. Long-term use is associated with higher risks.
Read Who Needs Hormone Replacement Therapy to learn more.
Would you like support navigating your hot flash-ridden menopause journey? Schedule an appointment at OB/GYN Associates of Spokane.