If you find your 2014 self flushed, drenching in night sweats, and steaming this winter, global warming might not be to blame. Perimenopause or early menopause, however, might be.
About 75 percent of women report perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, according to the North American Menopause Society. For most women, signs of menopause, like the heat wave, will last between six months and two years, but occasionally can stick around for 10+ years. Temps tend to hit record highs during the first two years of perimenopause, and while they are often less frequent during menopause, hot flashes are known to strike women even into their 70s.
Why? During perimenopause and menopause, your levels of estrogen take a veritable nosedive. This reduction is believed to affect your hypothalamus, an area at the base of your brain that regulates body temperature, according to Mayo Clinic. Basically, a lack of estrogen tells your brain that you’re overheated, causing your heart to pump faster, the blood vessels in your skin to swell, and your sweat glands to spew out so much sweat you look like you just left a Bikram yoga class.
Don’t live your 2014 life soaked in sweat! Here are four tips to cooling off during perimenopause and menopause this New Year:
Tame Your New Beginning Triggers
Whatever your 2014 vice, chances are it can exacerbate New Year hot flashes. In fact, both caffeine and alcohol are linked to hot flashes, per one 2010 study. Also, the more refined sugar menopausal women consume, the more hot flashes they endure, according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Last but not least, heavy smokers are four times more likely than non-smokers to suffer hot flashes, according to research from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Other common menopause symptom triggers include just about anything that’s hot (except your lover, of course!): showers, weather, spicy food, and overheated bedrooms. Before you move to Alaska or stick your head in the freezer this New Year, try charting your symptoms to pinpoint your triggers. (Sign up for my free newsletter to receive a menopause symptoms tracker!) Your menopause health isn’t one-size-fits all—see what works for you!
Set the Right Plate
Dinner’s up! Menopausal women who most closely follow a produce-rich Mediterranean diet are about 20 percent less likely to suffer hot flashes and night sweats, according to a 2013 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study. Besides fighting hot flashes directly, healthy foods prevent excess weight gain, which is also linked to hot flashes, according to a 2010 Menopause study. Eat these foods to fight menopausal symptoms.
Set Goals To Stress Less
Hot flashes go skipping hand-in-hand with stress and anxiety, according to a six-year study in Menopause. In the study, the most-stressed women were five times (I repeat, five times!) more likely than normally stressed ones to report hot flashes. To slash your 2014 stress levels, the North American Menopause Society recommends exercising regularly (but not too close to bedtime!), practicing meditation or yoga, and treating yourself to regular New Year massages. Check out more ways to fight menopausal stress.
Get A Prescription
Low-dose estrogen hormone replacement therapy is the switch that shuts down hot flashes, per research from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. If you want to turn that 2014 switch off, it’s important to see a perimenopause and menopause expert/gynecologist to examine your menopause symptoms chart, take a hormone panel test, and discuss your health history to develop a plan that’s right for you. Also, your menopause gynecologist may recommend that you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which have recently been approved for the treatment of hot flashes. SSRIs affect the brain’s use of a neurotransmitter chemical called serotonin, and can quell hot flashes, according to research presented at the 2012 North American Menopause Society conference.
If you feel like you’re sweating through the New Year winter in your own private sauna, do something about those pesky menopause symptoms! Hot flashes may feel like an unstoppable force of nature, but if you make some simple 2014 lifestyle switches, chart your symptoms, and reach out to a good menopause gynecologist or specialist for the help you deserve, you can chill out those New Year hot flashes in no time!
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!