Dealing with the hot flashes of menopause naturally


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Find natural ways to live well with menopause.

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Dealing with the hot flashes of menopause naturally

  1. 1. Dealing With the Hot Flashes of Menopause NaturallyHot Flashes are one of the symptoms of menopause and can be very annoying anduncomfortable for those who suffer them. There are ways to deal with your hotflashes but first let’s have a look at what Menopause actually is.What is menopause?Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life and occurs when the reproductiveyears have ended and the menstrual periods will stop. Menopause usually occursbetween the ages of 45 and 55 but can occur earlier. Menopause can actuallygradually begin over two years before the last menstrual period which is called perimenopause. Not all women will have symptoms of menopause and in fact 20 percent of women will have no symptoms at all. 60 per cent of women have mildsymptoms of menopause and the other 20 per cent will suffer severe symptoms.What happens to your body during menopause?When a woman’s body reaches the end of reproductive years the oestrogen levelsslow down and the hormone levels change. Changes in the menstrual cycle mayoccur such as irregular periods, lighter bleeding or heavy bleeding. Eventually thehormone levels will decrease so much that menstruation will stop completely andthat is when menopause is reached.What are the symptoms of menopause?Following are some of the symptoms that you may experience as your hormonelevels begin to fluctuate: Hot flushes and night sweats Crawling sensation under the skin Aches and pains Headaches Reduced libido (sex drive) Vaginal dryness Tiredness Depression Sleeping difficulties Forgetfulness IrritabilitySo that is a summary of what menopause is and what symptoms you mayexperience. For this report though we are looking mainly at hot flashes and howyou can deal with them naturally. So let’s take a closer look at hot flashes.Hot FlashesWhat do hot flashes feel like?Well I’m sure that once you experience one you will know exactly what it is. There isa sudden, intense, hot feeling on your face and upper body. It may be accompaniedby a rapid heartbeat and sometimes sweating, nausea, anxiety, dizziness, headacheor weakness. Some women will experience an uneasy feeling and they know thatthere is a hot flash coming on. The flash is followed by a flush which can leave you
  2. 2. red and perspiring. Often you will have a chill either at the beginning of a flash or atthe end.What causes hot flashes?Hot flashes can sometimes be caused by lifestyle and medications and mainly it iscaused by the hormonal changes of menopause. What happens is that we have apart of the brain called the ‘hypothalamus’ which controls appetite, sleep cycles,sex hormones and body temperature. When the hormones change duringmenopause there is a drop in the level of estrogen which has a direct effect on thehypothalamus and for some reason it confuses the hypothalamus and with its job asthey body’s thermostat it reads as ‘too hot’.When this happens the brain responds by telling the rest of your body – mainly theheard, blood vessels and nervous system – to get rid of the heat. This messagethen has the result of your heart pumping faster, the blood vessels in your skin willdilate so that they can circulate more blood to radiate off the heat, and your sweatglands will release sweat in an effort to cool you off.These responses are your body’s natural responses that keep you from overheatingduring warm weather but because this response is triggered not by the summer heatbut by a drop in Estrogen, your brain’s confused response results in you ending upfeeling very uncomfortable.Who can get hot flashes?Quite a large number of women, in fact around 85%, experience hot flashes as theyare getting close to menopause and will often continue experiencing them for a yearor two after menopause. Of those women around 20-50% of them will continue tohave hot flashes for a few years after menopause, though the intensity of them willdecrease as time goes on.All women are different and therefore there is a lot of variation in the onset, duration,frequency and nature of their hot flashes. An episode of hot flashes can last for afew seconds up to a few minutes and in some occasions can last for up to an hour.Even after the hot flash has finished it may take a half hour or so to feel back to yournormal self again. The most common time of the day for having hot flashes seemsto be between 6:00am and 8:00am, and between 6:00pm and 10:00pm.Dealing With Hot Flashes NaturallyTips to Help Deal with Hot FlashesNow we’re up to the bit you’ve been waiting for. Just what can you do to deal withyour hot flashes naturally? Because hot flashes are due to the lowering levels ofEstrogen then women are often put on Estrogen therapy. This therapy however isknown to be unsafe for women who have a history of breast cancer but even forthose women who have not suffered from breast cancer it is often best to try anatural way of dealing with your hot flashes and hopefully you won’t need to undergoEstrogen therapy. So let’s discuss some of the ways that you can deal with thisnaturally.Avoid Triggers
  3. 3. Sometimes you may be able to identify certain things that trigger your hot flashesand if you can then you have made the first step to getting on top of the problem. Bykeeping a record of when you have hot flashes and what you were doing at the timeas well as what you were eating at the time then you may be able to pinpoint sometriggering factors.One of the main factors known to trigger hot flashes is stress. So play close attentionwhen you have a hot flash and notice whether it was an above normal stressfulperiod. If you find that stress is triggering your hot flashes then you will need to tryand reduce the pressure and stress in your life. Learn some time management skillsand you will cope with the daily routine of your life much more efficiently and withless stress. Stress cannot always be avoided but there are steps you can take tolearn to deal with stress better.Other things that can trigger hot flashes are: Alcohol Caffeine Spicy food Hot food Smoking Spa’s Saunas Hot showers Diet pills Hot bed Hot weather Hot roomsTips to reduce hot flashesThese are just a few tips that may help reduce the frequency of your hot flashes aswell as the severity of them. Wear clothing that you can reduce if you start feeling hot. For example dress in layers with a shirt and cardigan so the cardigan can be removed if you start to feel warm. Avoid wearing just jumpers that you can’t remove when you are feeling hot. Avoid wearing wool, synthetics and possibly also silk. The best clothing to avoid hot flashes is cotton, linen and rayon, the type that will help to keep you cooler. Try to wear open neck shirts/blouses and avoid anything too tight around the neck such as turtlenecks. Drink a lot of cool water Avoid working or spending long periods of time in hot rooms. If need be, lower the thermostat or install ceiling fans, whatever it takes to keep the rooms that you spend a lot of time in at a cool and comfortable temperature.
  4. 4. If you are at work or somewhere that the heating and cooling is out of your control then you may want to get hold of a little hand held fan. At night wear cotton pyjamas or nighties. Many women will experience hot flashes at night when they are in bed so wearing cotton will help this and they are also easy to wash if you are perspiring a lot in them. Have cotton sheets on your bed and not synthetic. If your partner is making you hot at night you may want to consider getting a bigger bed. Night time hot flashes can often be helped by having a cool shower before going to bed. Some women say that they will open the freezer at home and stand in front of it to cool down, so keep that in mind if you want a quick cooling effect just use your freezer.Lifestyle Changes to Help Reduce or Alleviate Hot FlashesSo we have talked about some tips that can help you to deal with your hot flashesbut ultimately it would be nice to alleviate them and that is possible by making somelifestyle changes.ExerciseWe all know that exercise is beneficial for all aspects of our health but if you haven’texercised regularly for many years it can be quite difficult getting back into anexercise routine. To help reduce the symptoms of menopause including hot flashesit is important to get yourself into a good exercise routine.Exercise really is the most important alternative therapy that you can have to helpwith menopause. Exercise will help to control your body and your emotions andeach time that you exercise your adrenal glands are stimulated to convert the malehormone androstenedione into estrogen. When this happens then the symptoms oflow estrogen levels are alleviated.You should try to have a minimum of four exercise sessions a week at a duration of30 minutes each. That will be enough to keep your estrogen levels topped up andyour symptoms at a minimum.There are little things that you can do each day also to increase your level of activitysuch as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking the dog for a quick walk.Any extra activity that you can do will help with your menopause symptoms.Exercise will also help to: Improve your blood circulation creating energy and improving your ability to handle stress Improve your sense of well being and reduce depression Add years to your life
  5. 5. Make you sleep better Lose weight Make your bones stronger Reduce the risk of heart disease Maintain muscle strength Maintain a better immune system Lower cholesterol Reduce headachesSo you know deep down that exercise will help you not only with your hot flashes butin many other areas of your life, so get out there and start exercising.RelaxationRelaxation techniques can help you to reduce the stress in your life and to deal withstress more effectively. Some of the ways to help your general life to become morerelaxed are: Relaxation exercises Yoga Breathing exercises Hypnosis Massage Meditation VisualizationYoga is particularly good and it is also a form of exercise and can benefit your bodyin many ways. So if you choose yoga as part of your exercise routine you willreceive many benefits from it.Eating a healthy dietAs with exercise, we all know that a healthy diet can give you many benefits formany different areas of your health. But also as with exercise it is hard to start up anew routine. Often people tend to get into a habit of what they eat and how theyprepare their food also and sometimes you just don’t know where to start when tryingto change your diet.The good news is that if you do make a start and learn new cooking methods andeat different foods you will soon get into a new routine and it will become easier. Alow fat diet does help many women with the symptom of hot flashes as you will getmuch hotter when your body is carrying excess fat.When you are eating a good, healthy, balanced diet and getting the right amount ofnutrition every day you will feel much healthier in general and that will definitely helpwith the symptoms of menopause.
  6. 6. Tips for healthy eatingHere are a few tips to keeping a healthy diet to improve your health and reduce yourmenopause symptoms. Eat the recommended daily intake of fruit. Melons, bananas and citrus fruits are high in potassium so they are great to help balance sodium and water retention. Eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables. So many people just don’t eat the required amount of vegetables and it really can make a big difference to your health. Vegetables that are particularly good are spinach, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and others. Make sure you have enough fibre in your diet. Don’t eat fried foods or at least minimal amounts of fried foods, try to bake or steam instead. Eat wholegrain breads and use wholegrain flour. Oats, rye and wheat germ are also good. Try to eat more sweet potatoes and less regular potatoes. Eat beans and lentils regularly. Use olive oil, canola, wheat germ or flaxseed oils instead of your processed cooking oils. Include fish regularly in your diet. Fish has such a huge range of health benefits as they are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Try to cut out junky snack foods and instead snack on nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Drink less coffee and more water and limit your alcohol intake.Chinese MedicineMany women have turned to Chinese medicine to treat hot flashes. A Chinesedoctor would take your full history and give a complete physical before giving youtreatment. The Chinese have different descriptions for different types of hot flashesand the doctor will determine whether you are suffering from a ‘cold’ menopause or a‘hot’ menopause.Chinese medicine may include acupuncture and/or herbology. Acupuncture worksby moving your Xi, which is your inner wind, energy or spirit. Many women are a bitsceptical of this treatment but there are also many women who swear by it.Chinese herbal medicine is when different herbs are cooked together to make a teaand there are different herbs that are beneficial for different ailments. There aresome plant estrogens that have proven to be helpful with hot flashes includingevening primrose oil, licorice root, red raspberry leaves, spearmint, sarsaparilla,ginseng, damiana, motherwort and wild yams. These remedies can be quite
  7. 7. effective at reducing the hot flashes but remember that due to the estrogen in theplants it is not know if they are safe for women who have had breast cancer. It isimportant to not self treat with Chinese herbs; if you want to give Chinese herbs a trythen you need to tell your doctor of your intentions.ConclusionHot flashes are an annoying symptom of menopause that unfortunately manywomen will suffer from. As this symptom can last for a long period of time it is verybeneficial to try some of these natural methods to treat your symptoms rather thanrushing in to take synthetic medications.You will maintain a much healthier body and life if you are able to treat yoursymptoms naturally.