A team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that on average women experience moderate to severe hot flashes for nearly five years after menopause, and more than a third of women experience moderate/severe hot flashes for 10 years or more after menopause. Then there are those lucky ones who escape them altogether!
Hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances during peri-menopause and menopause are associated with hormonal shifting in the endocrine system. Everyone thinks of a decline in estrogen, but they are also caused by a decrease in progesterone, stressed adrenals and low thyroid, especially regarding night sweats and insomnia.
Most women actually tend to be estrogen dominant because of caffeine and carbohydrate consumption, non-organic dairy, hormone replacement, birth control, steroids, and exposure to xenoestrogens in plastics and chemicals in the environment. Stress causes the adrenal glands to utilize progesterone to manufacture the adrenal hormones leading to estrogen dominance and adrenal fatigue as well.
Menopausal women typically are given estrogen hormone replacement therapy for hot flash symptoms. Peri-menopausal women may be put on the birth control pill. The problem with these treatments is that estrogen further shuts down the thyroid: high estrogen levels interfere with the thyroid hormones, particularly the utilization of T3, the most biologically active thyroid hormone. Then there is the increased risk for estrogen induced cancers.
Published online by the 2014 journal “Menopause”, a new Mayo Clinic study found an association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. Caffeine also puts more stress on the adrenal glands and increases symptoms like fatigue, although it causes a rise in energy levels momentarily and increases alertness; later energy levels tend to plummet, increasing brain fog and moodiness. Caffeine also disrupts sleep leading to further morning fatigue.
In a study published in Fertility and Sterility, found women who consumed more than three alcoholic beverages (including wine) within a month were more likely of experiencing a recurrence of hot flashes. Conversely, consuming less than three drinks per month reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes by 25%.
Hot flashes are also associated with a number of prescription drugs. “Lupron, which is s used for treatment of uterine fibroids, raloxifene and tamoxifen, some high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.
So what can you do?
- Decrease caffeine and alcohol (including wine) consumption. Sorry Ladies, it really makes a difference! Also hot spicy foods can get hot flashes going!
- Get hormones balanced naturally. Menosense (Natural Factors) & Natural Progesterone cream
- Support the adrenal glands with B-50 complex & Adrenasense (Natural Factors)
- Do Basal Body Temperature readings to see how your thyroid is functioning.
- Keep your feet cool particularly at bedtime. During a hot flash put a cool (iced) cloth on back of your neck.
- Sometimes spritzing the body with a cooling recipe helps:To 4 oz ice water add 2 tsp witch hazel, 3 drops lavender oil, 2 drops peppermint, 1 drop clary sage (optional). Be careful too much peppermint will do the opposite & increase warmth!
- Get Quality Sleep – stop burning the candle at both ends, try relaxation yoga and if needed Sleep Optimizer (Jarrow Formulas)