One of the worst parts of aging!
God made us suffer great pains in childbearing (Gen 3:16). I think the greater suffering is in perimenopause and menopause with its mood swings, unpredictable periods (am I done yet or not?), and hot flashes. Oh, the hot flashes and night sweats … covers on … covers off … covers on … covers off.
No one can pinpoint what causes hot flashes. They think changes in circulation may have something to do with it. Regular exercise helps improve circulation, which flies in the face of the suggestion to stay cool.
Not all women experience hot flashes. I didn’t get so lucky, and it looks like I could continue experiencing this phenomenon for many years to come. I would rather give birth every year than live with hot flashes for who knows how long. They seem to be worse in the colder months too.
What can you do?
Some quick relief methods include drinking ice water when a hot flash starts, wearing light PJs, dressing in layers, and keeping a cold pack near your bed.
You can also try soy products, which contain plant estrogens (edamame and tofu). Many find that they don’t have enough estrogen-like effects to cut hot flashes. Supplemental forms of soy are even weaker, so food forms are the recommended source of soy. B complex vitamins and vitamin E may help.
Botanicals, like black cohosh, can have side effects or interfere with how other medications work. Talk to your doctor before trying any supplements, especially if you are taking other medications.
Other options include prescription medications. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a few years works for some. When you stop taking the hormones, however, hot flashes can return. HRT can cause blood clots, gallbladder inflammation, and even breast and endometrial cancers.
Clonidine (side effects) and Gabapentin (side effects) are other medications that are sometimes prescribed for hot flashes. Both required high doses. You would have to weigh the hot flashes against the side effects of each drug to determine if either is worth it.
The bottom line: aging kinda sucks!
You can’t wait to older only to find that you wish you were younger once you get there.