Why do hot flashes happen?
Hot flashes are most likely to be the result of a cumulative shift in hormone patterns in our menopause journey. We know that oestrogen has a role in regulating our body temperature -
and as its levels decline, the body's thermoregulatory system may become disrupted. As a result, the brain may perceive the body as being too hot even when the actual temperature isn't high, leading to the sensation of a hot flash.
Some research points to low serotonin as an influencing factor in the severity of hot flashes, as it may impact our body’s ability to regulate temperature too.
And it is believed that lifestyle factors can contribute to hot flashes too. Stress and poor sleep, which often goes hand in hand with night sweats, can exacerbate the number and severity of hot flashes, acting like a vicious circle in midlife.
What can we do to tackle hot flashes?
- Consider HRT: If you are struggling with hot flashes and have not yet explored HRT, it may be worth a conversation with your doctor as many women find it particularly useful for hot flashes.
Check out CBT: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has a robust body of research pointing to its efficacy in addressing both the number of hot flashes we experience and their severity. And the really positive news is that, because it focuses on our thought patterns, it is an intervention open to all of us, regardless of our medical history. We love Dr Myra Hunter’s book which is born out of the research she led at Kings’ College London. A practical 4 week guide, researchers saw a 40% decrease in symptoms across a series of trials. Learn more.
Eat to keep cool: Avoid hot and spicy foods, make sure you’re hydrated (at least 2 litres a day) and consider enhancing your water with herbs. Mint can be a lovely, calming addition and easy to source. Herbalists also recommend sipping sage tea throughout the day.
Smart supplementation: Red clover is often recommended as a support for hot flashes. But remember that, to absorb it, we need to take it with a prebiotic. MPowder Meno-Boost blends red clover, at therapeutic doses, with slippery elm to ensure our bodies can access the herb optimally.
Hot (and cold!) therapy: There is emerging evidence that hot and cold therapy can help our bodies better regulate temperature. Perhaps that is why so many of us, instinctively, become curious about cold water swimming in midlife. It’s important to note that extreme temperature endurance is not a competitive sport! If you’re looking to try it out at home with a cold shower, do your homework on how to do it safely. Or check out our Meno.Well Masterclass with our resident Wim Hof practitioner and cold water therapist Heather, HERE.
- Mindset matters: Finally, the reason CBT sees such positive results is because it tackles how we view hot flashes. If you can reframe them, you may find you naturally experience fewer…or that they simply bother you less. As a wonderful member of our community reflected in research last year, ‘I used to see them as shameful. Now I see them as power surges!...and that is something we can all get behind!
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