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Hot Flashes

10 Ways to Relieve Menopausal Hot Flashes

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Updated April 04, 2014

Hot flashes and menopause -- it's almost impossible to think of one without the other. Hot flashes are probably the first symptom we think of when we think of menopause or perimenopause (the years before menopause). Whether you already experience hot flashes, or you are still waiting for your turn, here are ten tips that can help reduce the severity of hot flashes when they happen to you:
  1. Some research suggests that soy may have some benefit for reducing hotflashes and other symptoms of menopause. However, it is recommended that you get your soy from foods rather than from supplements. Foods that contain soy include tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, whole soybeans, texturized vegetable protein, and soy powder.

  2. Black cohosh is a popular choice for the reduction of hot flashes, although little evidence exists about whether it is effective for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. You may hear claims that black cohosh provides effective relief against these and other symptoms of menopause, including headaches, heart palpitations, and anxiety. While there have been several small and inconsistent studies regarding the use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms relief, the results have been inconsistent. According to the North American Menopause Society, despite the lack of definitive evidence, "it would seem that black cohosh is a safe, herbal medicine.”

  3. Natural progesterone has been found to provide relief for hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause for many women. It is available in over-the-counter cream, compound prescription cream or capsule, and in traditional prescription -- Prometrium (progestins) -- forms.

  4. A study published in Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation found that Vitamin E may help reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.

  5. Effexoris a an antidepressant that has been found to reduce hot flashes in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Because it works so well for breast cancer patients, researchers believe it may be an option for women who don't want to use traditional hormone replacement therapy during menopause.

  6. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. You can walk, run, ride a bicycle, or do another activity. Just don't exercise within 3 hours of going to bed to help prevent night sweats.

  7. Gabapentin is a drug currently used to treat migraine headaches. Anecdotal evidence, however, found that the drug significantly reduced the number of hot flashes experienced in a small group of women.

  8. Dietary triggers that can start a bout of hot flashes include alcohol, caffeine, and cayenne and other spicy foods. If your hot flashes seem to be worse after consuming these foods, try eliminating the offenders and see if the hot flashes subside.

  9. Traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that includes estrogen replacement provides relief from hot flashes associated with menopause. However, estrogen has been associated with some medical risk and should be used sparingly. Before choosing estrogen replacement therapy, be sure you understand the both the risks and the benefits and how their relevance to your personal medical history. Talk to your medical provider.

  10. Hot flashes are often worse during hot weather. Wear all cotton clothes that allow your skin to breathe and keep a fan nearby during hot weather to reduce the number of hot flashes you experience.

Sources:

Alyson Huntley, PhD, and Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FRCP(Edin). “A systematic review of the safety of black cohosh.” NAMS. http://www.menopause.org/abstract/10158.aspx. Accessed 09/20/09.

Black Cohosh. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3X_Black_Cohosh.asp. Accessed 09/20/09.

Proof and Consequences. Neurology Now. http://www.aan.com/elibrary/neurologynow/?event=home.showArticle&id=ovid.com%3a%2fbib%2fovftdb%2f01222928-200905020-00020. Accessed 09/20/09.

S. Ziaei, A. Kazemnejad, M. Zareai. The Effect of Vitamin E on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women. Gynecol Obstet Invest 2007;64:204-207. http://content.karger.com/produktedb/produkte.asp?typ=fulltext&file=000106491. Accessed 09/20/09.

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