Menopause is a natural part of life. It marks the end of a woman's childbearing years. Some experience few symptoms and welcome the end of their monthly periods.

For others, however, symptoms leading up to, during, and after menopause, can be bothersome and life-disrupting. The most common and problematic symptom of perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause, and menopause, when a woman has not had a menstrual period for a full year, is hot flashes. About 75 to 80 percent of menopausal women experience hot flashes. Night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night, making it difficult to sleep.

A hot flash is when a woman’s body temperature suddenly spikes. As a result of the high temperature, women perspire as their bodies try to lower their temperature. Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by heart palpitations and dizziness. These bothersome menopausal symptoms usually subside after two years, but some women may experience them for a decade or longer.

For some, hot flashes are infrequent and not a problem. For others, they are frequent and interfere with their life. Fortunately, there are ways to manage hot flashes and night sweats so you can live your life without worrying about them.

Hormone therapy

One of the most effective ways to reduce severe and frequent hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy, also called HRT. As women approach menopause, their estrogen levels fluctuate and then plummet. To avoid this rollercoaster of hormone levels, women can replace or balance them with hormone replacement. Not all women are good candidates for HRT, so speak to your doctor to determine if HRT is an option for you.

Dress in layers

Since it’s hard for most women to know when a hot flash is coming on, it’s good to dress in layers so that if you suddenly become warm, you can cool down by taking a layer or two off. Then, when the episode is over, you can add a layer back on.

Avoid hot flash triggers, such as spicy foods, alcohol, and hot beverages.

For some women, hot foods and drinks can make their body temperature hot as well. If you notice that certain spicy or hot foods, or beverages such as alcohol, trigger a hot flash, limit or eliminate them from your diet.

Reduce stress

Too much stress can interfere with your emotional and physical health in many ways. Early-stage research has shown that relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi can improve menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

Keep your bedroom temperature cool

Many women who experience night sweats find themselves awoken in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. You can manage these night sweats by making your bedroom cooler. Start with turning the thermostat down. There are also products such as a cooling gel pillow and bedside fan that can help make you comfortable.

If hot flashes and night sweats are interfering with your life and keeping you up at night, make an appointment to find out how you can find relief.

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