Menopause and Hot Flashes
Menopaue is the reduced functioning of the ovaries due to aging. Therefore the age of fertility is
permanently over. Menopause is confirmed when a woman has missed her periods for 12 consecutive
months. The average age of menopause is 51. The years from puberty, (when periods start), until menopause are called premenopause.
Natural menopause is a natural , permanent ending of menstruation that is not caused by any medical
In the Western world, most women experience natural menopause between the ages of 40 and 58, with the average age around 51. Some women reach natural menopause as early as their 30s and a few as late as their 60s.
"Although life expectancy has increased during the past decades, the age at which women reach menopause has not changed for centuries. Today, most North American women spend at least one-third of their lives after menopause.
Two factors that can influence the timing of natural menopause have been identified:smoking and genetics. Smokers reach menopause about 2 years earlier than nonsmokers.
The genetic link is supported by the fact that women often experience menopause around the same age as their mothers and sisters.
Women who have received certain types of chemotherapy and/or pelvic radiation for cancer may also be at risk for earlier menopause.
There is also some limited evidence suggesting that a woman may experience menopause earlier than average if she has never delivered a baby, has a history of heart disease, is medically treated for depression, was exposed to toxic chemicals, had pelvic surgery, or had treatment for epilepsy.
No clear correlations have been found between age at menopause and race, age at first period, or use of birth control pills". (Quoted from the Menopause Guidebook
by The North American Menopause Society.)
Perimenopause is the transition phase before menopause. Sometimes it lasts 6 years or more, and
ends 1 year after the final menstrual period.
Peri menopause symptoms, or pre menopause symptoms are caused by declining levels of ovarian hormones. As the levels decline, they do so erratically, sometimes becoming even higher than normal.
It's important to remember that during perimenopause, a woman may be able to conceive, although fertility is very low.
Pre Menopause Symptoms, Peri Menopause Symptoms and Menopause Symptoms
- Irregular menstral periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Hair loss
- Bladder infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Increased appetite
- Craving for sweets or carbs
- Weight gain
- Depression in varying degrees
- Suicidal thoughts
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful sexual encounters
- Lowered sex drive
Fortunately not everyone has all of these pre menopause symptoms . And the severity and duration vary from person to person. Just remember, there are remedies and innovative products to get through this trying time of your life.
Please scroll down for the section on Menopause Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats.
Hysterectomy and Menopause
Induced menopause is when menstrual periods stop because of a medical intervention, either by surgery or cancer treatments.
Removing the uterus (hysterectomy) does not cause menopause if the ovaries are left in place, although
menstrual bleeding and fertility end. If one or both ovaries remain a hysterectomy usually brings on the end of ovarian estrogen production an average of 2 to 3 years earlier than normal.
Women undergoing chemotherapy or radiation in the pelvic area, or who have had their ovaries removed,
experience the menopause symptoms of profuse sweating accompanied by hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness much more severely than those experiencing natural menopause. This is due
to the abrupt loss of estrogen. Also the emotional impact of induced menopause is usually greater than
with natural menopause.
Women who experience induced menopause usually have a greater need for treatment to control their
menopause-associated symptoms than women who undergo natural menopause. Because these women are often younger, they need ongoing monitoring and sometimes treatment to lower the risk of menopause associated diseases such as osteoporosis later in life.
Premature menopause is when a woman reaches menopause, either surgically or naturally at or before
age 40. Women experiencing natural premature menopause go through perimenopause and may have the same symptoms as women with natural menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and sleep disturbances. These women spend more years without estrogen, and are at a greater risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.
Postmenopause are all the years past menopause.
Night Sweats, Menopause and Hot Flashes
Hot flashes or hot flushes are thought to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates the body's temperature.Since the hypothalamus is dependent on estrogen, and the estrogen levels are fluctuating, the brain soes not know if yor are too hot or too cold. If the hypothalamus senses that a woman is too warm, it starts a chain of events to cool her down. Blood vessels near the surface of the skin begin to dilate (enlarge), increasing blood flow to dissipate body heat. This produces a red, flushed look to the face and neck, accompanied by instant perspiration, to cool the body down.
In some women, an aura (an uneasy feeling or mild panic attack), occurs just before the hot flash. An increased pulse rate and a sensation of rapid heart beating may also occur. Hot flashes are often followed by a cold chill. Some women experience only the chill.
Hot flashes that occur at night often interfere with sleep, and are strong enough to wake a woman up. If a woman perspires heavily, the condition is called night sweats.
It's a myth that menopause makes women irritable. Sleep disturbances cause fatigue and lead to irritability.
Keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature and well ventilated.
Menopause is not the only cause of hot flashes. Profuse sweating accompanied by hot flashes can also be one of the signs of an infection, thyroid disorder, diabetes, tuberculosis, leukemia, or
lyme disease. Additionally, some drug therapies, such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex) for cancer and raloxifene (Evista) for osteoporosis, can cause hot flashes.
Cool Wicking PJs special moisture wicking menopause pajamas and menopause nightgowns are fabricated with wicking microfiber to relieve your peri menopause symptoms of night sweats, so you won't have to get up and change during the night. They are especially great for anyone going thru chemotherapy.
"More than two-thirds of North American women have hot flashes during perimenopause.
Women whose ovaries are removed, inducing surgical menopause, often have severe hot flashes that begin immediately after surgery and last longer than those in women reaching menopause naturally.
Menopause-related hot flashes usually follow a consistent pattern unique to each woman. Some hot flashes are easily tolerated, others are annoying or embarrassing, and still others can be debilitating. Most women experience hot flashes for 3 to 5 years before they taper off.
Although some women never have a hot flash or have them only for a few months, others may have them for many years, even into their 70s or beyond. There is no way of predicting when they will start-or stop.
Hot flashes often increase with stress and may be associated with palpitations (rapid heartbeat) and feelings of anxiety. The unsettling feeling that precedes a hot flash can mimic a panic attack in some women."
(Quoted from the Menopause Guidebook by The North American Menopause Society)
Some causes of night sweats are relatively harmless, while others are a sign of a serious underlying disease. A night sweat caused by a medical condition or infection can be described as 'severe hot flashes' occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.
Use Cool Wicking PJs cooling sheets like these, that stay cool, absorbing moisture and releasing it into the air, keeping you cool and dry through the night.
Common Causes for Night Sweats
- Common cold
- Heart disease
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid disorders
- Long term illnesses
- Excess body fat
Menopause Natural Remedies Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
There are many natural remedies to relieve hot flashes and night sweats caused by peri menopause symptoms.
- Try to have a positive attitude toward menopause. It isn't easy to be positive but your attitude can have a tremendous impact on the whole transition experience. The more negative a woman’s thoughts are about hot flashes, the more intense they may be.
- Keep a journal of night sweats, as well as details of the day leading up to it.
- Try to identify personal hot flash triggers. These might be stress, a warm room, using a hair dryer, strong emotions, hot drinks, hot or spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and cigarette smoking.
- Don't drink alcohol close to bedtime as it will cause hormone levels to spike and drop suddenly, leading to hot flashes
- Caffeine right before bedtime can raise heart rate and blood pressure, thus triggering night sweats.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and promote more restful sleep-but not too close to bedtime. Jill Maura Rabin, MD, chief of ambulatory care, ob-gyn and urogynecology, Long Island Jewish Medical Center writes, " One of the best things you can do is exercise. "
- Research has shown that women who work out on a regular basis have fewer and less intense hot flashes.
- Take a cool shower before bedtime.
- Avoid hot tubs /Jacuzzi's right before bedtime.
- Clear your mind of stress each night before bed.
- Develop a regular bedtime routine and try to go to bed at the same time every night.
- Try to get 8 hours of sleep. You need extra when your sleep is interrupted.
- Keep water at your bedside. Replenish fluids lost during night sweats.
- Try paced respiration at the beginning of a hot flash.
- Take slow, deep, abdominal breaths in through the nose, for 7 counts, hold for 7 counts, and release out through the mouth for 8 counts. Perfect for falling asleep!
- Meditation, positive visualization, yoga or tai chi/qi gong, biofeedback, acupuncture, or massage may help.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. Some can cause night time sweating. Antidepressants caused night sweats in 22% of users in one study.
- Try to stay cool during the day and while sleeping. Keep your bedroom at a cooler temperature and well ventilated.
- Use wicking bed sheets, like these, to help you stay cool by absorbing moisture and releasing it into the air, so you feel comfortable and dry through the night.
- Nestle on a wool mattress pad, like this, to relieve stress, and absorb moisture from normal nighttime sweating or profuse sweating accompanied by hot flashes. You'll sleep cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Try the Chillow. It's cooling and soothing effect seems to slow both the mental and physiological aspects of the body, creating a mild tranquilizing effect.
- Cool Wicking PJs features special moisture wicking menopause pajamas, here, and menopause nightgowns, get them here, are fabricated with wicking microfiber to relieve your peri menopause symptoms of night sweats, so you won't have to get up and change during the night. They are especially great for anyone going thru chemotherapy.
- Learn effective techniques for getting back to sleep. Breathe in thru your mouth, hold for 8 seconds, and breathe out thru your nose for 8 seconds. The act of concentrating helps block out other thoughts.
- Flaxseed - One of the many benefits of flaxseed is that it can also help reduce hot flashes and ease menopause symptoms. A common recommendation is 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed a day. Ground flaxseed goes rancid almost immediately. Keep whole flaxseed in the freezer. Buy a little coffee grinder, and grind only what you are using right then. It is almost tasteless, so can be added to cereal, salads, etc. Heat destroys it so don't add to hot dishes or baking. It can take up to 2 months for the full effect to be felt.
- Natural remedies are another option to help treat sleep problems. Chamomile tea, melatonin, and herbs such as valerian root and kava kava are suggested. Taking calcium 500 mg along with magnesium has a calming effect on the body. Talk to your doctor about a prescription that may help you.