Hot flashes are a classic symptom of menopause, and most women will experience them to some degree as hormonal balance changes during perimenopause and menopause. They hit suddenly as an intense wave of heat, generally beginning in the face and head, then spreading throughout the body. Women may flush bright red and perspire profusely during these attacks and many become breathless, feel their heart racing or have palpitations. When they occur in public, their effects can be terribly embarrassing, and for women who have very severe and frequent attacks, they can be exhausting and disruptive, taking a hefty toll on a woman's quality-of-life.
How They Happen?
While the exact cause of hot flashes hasn't been clearly established, they are known to be associated with the complex hormonal changes that occur during the menopausal transition. These changes affect the body's ability to regulate its temperature, triggering its natural cooling process into high gear unnecessarily and unpredictably. During a hot flash, blood vessels dilate and the heart beats faster, increasing blood flow and prompting that feeling of intense heat and perspiration. Often, that intense heat is followed by chills, and women may feel weak, shaky, dizzy or just plain exhausted after an attack.
Hot flashes are frequently the first sign that a woman has entered perimenopause and are often soon followed by other hormonal symptoms, such as mood swings, unexplained weight gain, insomnia, fatigue and forgetfulness. Often, attacks are mild when they first begin, then become gradually more intense and frequent as menopause approaches. When they occur at night, they are called night sweats and can be, in many cases, so intense that women soak their night clothes and sheets with perspiration. Many women have hot flashes after menopause, even some who didn't have them during perimenopause. For most, they will become less severe as time passes.
What Can Be Done?
Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause can cause a great deal of disruption in your life, impacting your level of performance at work and interfering with your ability to enjoy home and family. If your symptoms reach that point, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help. Using natural, plant-based hormones that are identical to your body's own, your hormonal balance can be restored, relieving troublesome symptoms effectively - and without the health risks associated with conventional, synthetic hormone drugs.