Hormone therapy is the most effective therapy for hot flashes. However, other non-hormonal options are available for women who are suffering from symptoms, but are not yet ready to consider hormone therapy. Some women are not appropriate candidates for hormone therapy, such as those have been recently treated for breast cancer. It is important to remember that when used appropriately, hormone therapy can be a safe and effective option for many women. Here we will review non-hormonal treatment options for women.
Hot flashes (or flushing) is the most common symptom experienced by a woman prior to and during the early stages of menopause, and often is described as the feeling of warmth that spreads over the body, often starting at the head accompanied by sweating. In the Study of Women Across America the Nation (SWAN) women had hot flashes that lasted on average 7 1/2 years. Symptoms of hot flashes include:
Night sweats are severe hot flashes that occur at night and result in a drenching sweat. The causes of night sweats in most people are not serious, like menopause in women, sleep apnea, medications, alcohol withdrawal, and thyroid problems. However, more serious diseases like cancer and HIV also can cause night sweats. Your doctor will treat your night sweats depending upon the cause.
"I'm in the early stages of 'my second spring' and found when I'm very stressed the hot flushes come hot and heavy. A friend recommended a magnet made by Lady Care, it is said to reduce or alleviate hot flushes, palpitations, muscle tension and anxiety. It attaches to underwear and is non invasive and I forget I'm wearing it! It definitely helps me (well for now anyway). I bought it in Boots it cost about €35" Liz
Unfortunately, the exact cause of hot flashes in early pregnancy has not been found. Some scientists have suggested that they may be due to the effect of oscillating hormone levels on your brain. After conception, estrogen levels decrease markedly, which can increase stress. This stimulates the synthesis and secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine from the brain into the blood. These hormones may result in bodily heat sensations.
Black cohosh is among the most popular herbs for treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. The root of the plant is used in capsules and, less commonly, tea. Both forms are found in most health food stores and available online. Although the exact mechanism of black cohosh is unknown, researchers believe it binds to estrogen receptors or stimulates serotonin receptors.
If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already realized that your body is capable of playing all kinds of mischievous tricks on you. Perhaps you’ve been battling morning sickness, or your skin has broken out and resembles a photo of yourself from eighth grade, or maybe it has you waking up three or four or even five times during the night to use the bathroom. There are all kinds of surprises in store for pregnant women. One not to be overlooked is the dreaded hot flash.
Some research shows that fluctuating levels of oestrogen may be a cause. “In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, pregnancy hormones surge to high levels,” explains midwife Helen. “They have the job of ‘maintaining’ the pregnancy until the placenta is developed, which is around 12 weeks. This surge of hormones is what is responsible for the ‘symptoms’ of pregnancy.”
Nonprescription products such as herbal supplements are not controlled by the FDA because they are considered food supplements by law. Because they are not regulated like prescription medications, their ingredients and potency vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even from bottle to bottle from the same manufacturer. Also, careful testing and proof of safety is not required as it is with prescription medications. (The only way the FDA can recall a nonprescription product is by proving that it is dangerous.) Furthermore, there are so many nonprescription products available that a doctor cannot possibly know exactly what is in each preparation. Moreover, not one of these products has been scientifically proven to be safe or effective.
I used to love the heat especially going on holidays and when you step off the plane, the heat would hit you and it felt good. Now with perimenopause started - its agonizing - especially in work. I work in a shared office and I get so bad that I have to bring a change of top with me. Also I just can’t concentrate. Night time isn’t easy either with my bed sheets - in the last couple of days they are getting completely soaked.
Many women turn to alternative therapies, including herbal products, vitamins, plant estrogens, and other substances, for the treatment of hot flashes. Doctors can be reluctant to recommend alternative treatments because these nonprescription products are not regulated by the FDA (like prescription medications), and their ingredients and strength can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. For products that are not regulated by the FDA, testing and proof of safety is not required for marketing of these products. Long-term, scientifically controlled studies for these products are either lacking or have not proved the safely and effectiveness of many of the so-called natural or alternative remedies.
You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about your hot flashes anxiety symptom. Sure, they can be bothersome and annoying, but again, when your body has recovered from an active stress response and/or sustained stress, this symptom will completely disappear.
According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, pregnant women complain of hot flashes five times more often than non-pregnant women of the same age. While hot flashes affect as many as 90 percent of women in the postpartum period, according to California obstetrician Dr. Laurie Gregg, the University of Pennsylvania researchers reported that 81 percent of hot flashes in pregnant women started before the third trimester.
Progestin drugs have also been successfully used to treat hot flashes. Megestrol acetate (Megace) is sometimes prescribed over a short-term to help relieve hot flashes. Serious effects can occur if the medication is abruptly discontinued, and megestrol is not usually recommended as a first-line drug to treat hot flashes. An unpleasant side effect of Megestrol is that it may lead to weight gain. Another form of progesterone, medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera) administered by injection, can also sometimes be useful in treating hot flashes, but may also lead to weight gain as well as bone loss.
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants (such as chick peas and lentils) that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. Red clover is another source of isoflavones that has been used by some women in an attempt to relieve hot flashes. Isoflavones have a chemical structure that is similar to the estrogens naturally produced by the body, but their effectiveness as an estrogen has been estimated to be much lower than true estrogens.
Menopause is not an illness, but a natural transition when a woman's reproductive ability ends. Yet many of the menopausal symptoms may mimic signs caused by diseases. When do women undergoing menopause need treatment in the first place? The same pattern of hot flashes in two women can have a very different psychological impact. For one woman, they can greatly disturb her daily functioning, while another may hardly be bothered.
Sometimes called false labor contractions or "practice contractions," Braxton-Hicks can start in the second trimester but more commonly occur in the third trimester. They are generally not painful, although this can vary depending on a woman's pain threshold. Increased activity—from you or the baby—can trigger Braxton-Hicks contractions as can dehydration. Nevertheless, these contractions are a normal part of pregnancy and are nothing to worry about.
I woke up in a puddle of my own sweat. As I got out of bed, waves of heat and nausea flowed over me. I ran to the bathroom to throw up and thought to myself: could I be going through menopause? I had no idea that pregnant people can experience hot flashes, too. I Googled my symptoms, took a pregnancy test, and sure enough, I was pregnant. I continued to have hot flashes throughout my pregnancy, but they didn't mirror the stereotype of a woman fanning herself dramatically. Pregnancy hot flashes actually feel so different. In fact, they feel worse.
Your hot flashes may last anywhere from just a few seconds to under five minutes. As your body cools down from the sudden flush, you may also begin to perspire. This will become more common once you hit your second trimester and will continue until your delivery. They may also extend to a few months afterwards when your body constantly produces milk to breastfeed your baby with.
It’s not exactly clear what causes hot flashes. Multiple studies are attempting to understand them. There is clear evidence that hot flashes result from hormonal changes in the body. Their connection to other health problems, such as diabetes, is also being studied. Obesity and metabolic syndrome are thought to increase the incidence of hot flashes. Some women barely notice hot flashes or consider them a minor annoyance. For others, the intensity may affect their quality of life in a rather negative way.
You may experience other signs and symptoms that are associated with night sweats, which depend upon the cause, but may include, shaking, and chills with a fever caused by an infection like the flu or pneumonia; unexplained weight loss due to lymphoma; women in perimenopause or menopause may also have vaginal dryness, mood swings, and hot flashes during the day; and low blood sugar in people with diabetes.
I feel so helpless, though, sitting by and just watching my friends suffer. And when they ask me what I did when I was going through it, I search my mind for an answer and come up with nothing more than "I carried around a pretty fan," or "I dressed in layers and packed away, for an indefinite period of time, anything that wasn't 100 percent cotton."
I had full hysterectomy 13 hrs ago & had implants for about 6 months or so. I never had hot flashes. Last year I started a diet & started hot flashes really bad, over 15 times a day. Even if I am naked in a cool room, window open in winter I get like I have just had a shower. I spoke to my Dr & I cannot have HRT but he says I shouldn't be experiencing this now. I tried a cream you put on your abdomen but it made it worse. I noticed when I started exercising that my heart rate is well out of whack sometimes going from 53-192-0 just sitting down. Now under a cardiologist that thinks I have Angina. I am awaiting further tests/results. The cardiologist thinks its because of my thyroid because its under active but tests show its normal with medication. My thyroid was diagnosed 6 yrs ago so that's strange. I read somewhere that heart problems can cause hot flashes...has anyone else come across this? I drink plenty of water, exercise daily, don't drink caffeine, alcohol very rarely & don't have spices...
Black cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, is one of the most researched herbal options for hot flashes. The herb is thought to act like estrogen in the body, decreasing luteinizing hormone (a hormone that's secreted by the pituitary gland and that may play a role in hot flashes) and affecting serotonin receptors, which are also involved in hot flashes. Nonetheless, the data on this herb are mixed. One study showed that black cohosh reduced hot flashes by 84 percent. In another, it worked just as well as estrogen in reducing hot flashes; still others have found that the herb has little, if any, benefit. Perhaps the study that got the most attention was the Herbal Alternatives for Menopause Trial (HALT), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in 2006. It included 351 women ages 45 to 55 who took either 160 milligrams a day of black cohosh alone; a multiherb pill with black cohosh and nine other ingredients; a multiherb pill plus counseling to increase the amount of soy in their diet; hormone therapy (estrogen with or without progestin); or a placebo. The frequency and severity of the women's menopausal symptoms fell by about a third over a year whether the women took black cohosh or a placebo. Only estrogen therapy significantly improved their hot flashes.
Researchers think one reason for yoga's benefits is the sense of control it provides, a sense you learn to bring to the hot flash itself. The deep relaxation that occurs with restorative yoga also engages the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that controls unconscious responses such as sweating. Other types of yoga, such as Bikram, have also been shown to have similar benefits.
Traditionally, the most effective treatment for hot flashes has been estrogen supplementation. It’s often referred to as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Estrogen may be taken alone or in combination with progesterone. Women who’ve had a hysterectomy may be able to safely take estrogen alone, while all other women using HRT should take estrogen and progesterone together.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): This class of medication is used to treat depression and anxiety. In clinical studies, however, low doses of SSRIs and SNRIs have been shown to be effective in decreasing menopausal hot flashes. The SNRI that has been tested most extensively is venlafaxine (Effexor), although there is also evidence showing that the SSRIs paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR) and fluoxetine (Prozac) can be effective in controlling hot flashes.
Seriously? Sticking needles in your body could really improve hot flashes? Possibly. A randomized, controlled trial of 267 women published in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal Menopause found that women who had 10 acupuncture treatments over 12 weeks had far fewer hot flashes than those who received a sham procedure. The women getting the acupuncture also reported that they slept better and had less pain. We don't exactly know why acupuncture works when it does work. There's some evidence that needling acupuncture points affects the sympathetic nervous system, as well as the release of hormones such as cortisol, endorphins, and serotonin. As with many of the options listed here, you need to give this treatment time to work. It may take several sessions before you notice any improvement. A good place to find a qualified acupuncturist is the American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine.
Many women report feeling hot or overheating during the third trimester of pregnancy. You may be sweating all the time and feeling like no matter how many items of clothing you take off, you can’t help but feel like you’re melting. It can get so bad that it disturbs your sleep and makes you wonder if you have a fever or are just plain crazy. Don’t fret—hot flashes are perfectly normal, and your body temperature will return to normal once your baby is born. There are a few possible causes:
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A number of non-hormonal remedies are available for the treatment of hot flashes. Some of these remedies (e.g., black cohosh and soy products) are available over-the-counter but are not FDA-approved. Some prescription medications are used “off label” to help reduce hot flashes. Using a product "off label" means that it is not FDA-approved for the treatment of hot flashes, but is often used because it can be safe and effective for hot flash treatment.
Women frequently ask what symptoms they can anticipate during menopause. In reality, each woman experiences menopause differently. Some women have changes in several areas of their lives. It is not always possible to tell if these changes are related to aging, menopause or both. While one woman is certain that insomnia is a menopause symptom for her, another feels joint aches are her primary menopause symptom. Doctors find it difficult to communicate to their patients about menopause and what could be a host of uncomfortable symptoms. For example, medical science cannot explain how declining hormone levels during menopause could cause joint pain.
Hot flashes may occur even before you know you're pregnant, around the time that the embryo implants in the uterine wall. Implantation normally occurs between eight to 10 days after ovulation, according to BabyMed, a website created by obstetrician Dr. Amos Grunebaum. Progesterone, produced by the corpus luteum, the remnant of the follicle that contained an egg, rises after ovulation. Progesteron continues to rise after implantation of the embryo as the production of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, signals the corpus luteum to keep producing progesterone.
Hot flashes, a common symptom of the menopausal transition, are uncomfortable and can last for many years. When they happen at night, hot flashes are called night sweats. Some women find that hot flashes interrupt their daily lives. The earlier in life hot flashes begin, the longer you may experience them. Research has found that African American and Hispanic women get hot flashes for more years than white and Asian women.