What Makes A Hot Flash Hot And How To Cool Down?

Hot flashes are perhaps the number one symptom that most women experiencing perimenopause and menopause complain about.

For me, they were by far the worst during the day at board meetings and while presenting to my clients, and, at night I would wake up drenched in sweat.

Hot flashes involve temporary but recurring episodes of flushing with a sensation of warmth or heat on the upper body and face. When they occur at night they are called night sweats. They are reported by as many as 75% of perimenopausal women in the U.S. 

(Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/menopause-related-hot-flashes-night-sweats-can-last-years-201502237745)

(Source: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do)

What causes a hot flash?

While researchers do not know exactly what causes hot flashes, current theories suggest that hot flashes are due to a menopause-related drop in the body’s level of female hormones called estrogens. This drop affects the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that regulates body temperature.

In a hot flash, the hypothalamus seems to sense that your body is too hot even when it is not, and, signals the body to release the excess heat. One way the body does this is to widen (dilate) blood vessels, particularly those near the skin of the head, face, neck and chest. Once the blood vessels return to normal size, you feel cool again.  

(Source: https://www.drugs.com/health-guide/hot-flashes.html)

So, in essence the body is trying to help itself, but because of the hormone cross-talk, it is actually making you sweat when temperature-wise, you aren’t really hot.

Learning this truth helped me to be more self-compassionate because the innate wisdom in my body was trying to do its job to keep me cool.

So how can you make a hot flash less hot?

First know the common triggers:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Hot and/or spicy foods
  • Processed and fast foods
  • Refined sugars
  • Simple carbohydrates
  • Smoking 
  • Stress
  • Warm temperatures in your environment (especially when you sleep)

You may not have all of these triggers as every woman is different, so it helps to keep track of your specific triggers in a journal. Once you begin to notice a reoccurring trigger, try to eliminate it and see if you feel better.

Hope for hot flashes

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)-  bioidentical HRT may be a good option should your symptoms become severe. It is similar to estrogen therapy, but it uses bio-identical hormones that are manufactured to look and behave exactly like the natural estrogen found in our bodies. However, whether it is an exact duplicate or not, adding extra estrogen into the bloodstream can create health problems, especially for women who have breast cancer or other estrogen-dependent cancer. Dr. Christiane Northrup, an ob-gyn expert on women’s health and menopause says that because of the inherent risks that come along with hormone replacement therapy supplementation, she advocates that there’s no harm in trying “a small amount of bioidentical hormone replacement to see if it’s right for you.” You will know the answer very quickly because your body will either say “yes” or “no.”  And even bioidentical estrogen is a growth hormone in the body and may have adverse effects on uterine and breast tissue, especially if not balanced with progesterone. As a result, it should be used at the lowest dose that is effective for the shortest period of time possible.

(Source: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do)

(Source: https://www.drnorthrup.com/abcs-of-hrt/)

Lifestyle changes that bring ease and calm to your body

Hope for hot flashes. Although available treatments will not eliminate all hot flashes, but what they can offer is enough symptom relief to make a big difference in many women’s quality of life and interest in sex. 

These hope for hotflashes suggests include:

  • Create your own lifestyle routine that works for you and have some for the following elemens: 
  • Eat a plant-based diet – 80% of the time
  • Choose organic meats which are likely not to have hormones – 20% of the time
  • Exercise regularly – 3x/week at least using gentler tools than intense weight lifting and spinning classes. Instead, choose:
    • Pilates, yoga, swimming, walking, less jarring intense exercise to keep cortisol in balance
    • Age Backward with Essentrics by Miranda Esmond White – my current obsession which you can stream right in your home and it works! https://essentrics.com/essentrics-tv/
  • Laughter – as often as possible
  • Reduce sugar and caffeine
  • Stop smoking 
  • Get support from a skilled practitioner or physician to understand and choose the right herbs and scientifically proven menopause relief supplements to help reduce and live more easily with hot flashes. 

If you want to learn more about how to eat for hormone balance, enjoy more energy and vitality and connect to a great community of like-minded phenomenal women transitioning menopause with grace, you should join our Facebook group:

Join the Joy of Menopause Facebook Group

We can’t wait to meet you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *