Perimenopause and menopause can be fraught with symptoms. One that most women share is hot flashes. They can be hard to handle, but if you know how to fix hot flashes for good, you’ll be well on your way to a happier life and a better night’s sleep!
Hot Flashes 101: What Are They Exactly?
A hot flash, also known as a hot flush, is a sudden and intense feeling of warmth, often accompanied by sweating and reddening of the skin. It can occur due to menopause or other factors like hormonal changes, certain medications, or medical conditions. Their frequency and severity vary among individuals.
How Long Do Hot Flashes Last?
The duration varies widely. Some women never have them, and some only have brief episodes. Still, others endure them for over 10 years or longer. On average, women typically face hot flashes or night sweats for about seven years during perimenopause (the period of time leading up to the cessation of menstrual cycles) and/or menopause.
How Are Hot Flashes Diagnosed, and What Are the Treatment Options?
Usually, all your gynecologist needs is a description of your symptoms. But, they may recommend blood tests to confirm you’re in menopausal transition.
As for treatment, you have plenty of options! While figuring out how to fix hot flashes for good, it should be noted you might benefit most from a combination of any of the following medicinal or homeopathic solutions such as:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): Estrogen and sometimes progesterone can alleviate symptoms, but the risks and benefits should be carefully considered if this is your only symptom.
- Non-hormonal medications: Certain prescription medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and gabapentin can help reduce hot flashes.
- Behavioral therapies: Cognitive-behavioral therapy and hypnosis have shown some effectiveness in reducing hot flashes.
- Herbal supplements/vitamins: Some women find relief with herbal remedies like black cohosh, soy isoflavones, or evening primrose oil. You might also benefit from B-complex vitamins and/or vitamin E. Results can vary.
- Cooling techniques: Dressing in layers, using fans, and keeping a cool room temperature can help.
- Acupuncture: Some individuals experience relief from hot flashes with acupuncture.
Is There a Difference Between HRT and Bioidentical Hormone Therapy (BHT)?
If you’ve done any research on menopausal symptoms, you may have come across bioidentical hormone therapy. The main difference between HRT and BHT is the source of hormones.
The hormones found in BHT are derived from natural sources that are more bioavailable because they’re more similar to your body’s hormones.
Choosing one or the other isn’t a decision you need to make alone. Consult with your gynecologist to determine which method is best for you.
How Quickly Can I Expect Relief After Starting Treatment for Hot Flashes?
It may take a little time. Patience and consistency are key!
Most women begin to see improvement within weeks. For others, it can take a few months. The important thing is to follow the advice of your gynecologist and keep the lines of communication open. They can make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed.
How Can I Be Proactive in Avoiding Hot Flashes?
Unfortunately, they cannot always be avoided, but there are ways you can possibly sidestep known triggers. Lifestyle changes such as skipping spicy foods, not smoking, and not drinking alcohol can help. Make daily exercise a priority too.
You might also want to try a deep breathing technique, practicing six to eight slow deep breaths per minute for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening, and anytime a hot flash occurs.
What Are Additional Symptoms of Menopause?
Unfortunately, hot flashes are not the only issue women experience during menopause. Other menopause symptoms include but are not limited to irregular periods, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, mood changes, weight gain, and thinning hair.
Many patients find it helpful to keep a journal of their symptoms. This information can prove quite valuable for your gynecologist!
I’m Ready for Relief! What Steps Should I Take to Find an Experienced Menopause Doctor?
A good place to start is with your primary care provider. Ask them for a referral. You can also ask family and friends for recommendations as well.
Some people choose to find a gynecologist through their insurance. This can certainly save out-of-pocket costs! Just be sure you understand what your plan does and does not cover.
Online research is helpful too. Look for doctors who specialize in menopause diagnosis and treatment. Don’t forget to verify their credentials.
Schedule consultations. These in-person meetings can be especially helpful when choosing a menopause doctor. Take advantage of this time to ask questions and get a feel for the kind of healthcare they offer. They should have an approach that aligns with yours.
Above all, trust your instincts. It’s important you feel at ease discussing your reproductive health. If you don’t, know it’s okay to keep looking for a doctor who provides a comforting environment.
Choose the Experts at Annandale Ob-gyn Who Know How to Fix Hot Flashes for Good!
Our gynecology team is dedicated to supporting you during the challenging transition of menopause. We believe it should be a stress-free phase, marking an exciting beginning to your next life chapter.
If you’re struggling with menopausal symptoms, please contact us at 703-642-7522. We are excited to partner with you on your journey to a happy and symptom-free life! We’ll be with you every step of the way.