Hot flashes are related to but not caused by a decline in estrogen

How to Stop Hot Flashes Fast?

Let's be honest: when a hot flash starts, it consumes you. Forget work, house chores, or your kids' homework when you feel your skin melting as you break into a drenching sweat. That unpredictable heat wave that rushes through your body—whether it starts at your chest or from the balls of your feet—is, to say the least, unbearable.

Unfortunately, you can't stop a hot flash on the spot. The onset of hot flashes marks the start of your body's transition into menopause and, as you may know, they are associated with (but not caused by) a natural decline of estrogen and progesterone levels.

But you don't have to take them lying down. You can prep yourself with a few tricks up your sleeve to help you combat hot flashes when they happen, and there are lifestyle changes you can make to support estrogen levels to help your body find balance and help ease hot flashes and night sweats. Hold on to your fans and let's get started.

1. Plunge into cold temperatures

No, we're not joking. It's natural to want to rip your clothes off and jump into a pool of ice, but that may not always be convenient or possible. The next best thing is to take a cold shower if you experience a hot flash while at home. Of course, hot flashes couldn't care less what your day looks like, so you can arm yourself with a compact portable fan and metal ice cubes that conveniently fit in your purse to help lower your body temperature as you ride the biological heat wave of menopausal hot flashes.

And don't be bashful—as the warrior woman you are, who cares if people are watching! Fan yourself at your lunch date with your girlfriends or while you're waiting in line for school pick-up. Place your metal ice cubes (or even ice packs) around your neck, arms and chest (thank goodness for bras!) to help your body cool down.

If you like icy drinks, have an iced matcha tea (iced water or protein smoothies work, too!) for a healthy and cooling treat—make sure you have a fuzzy blanket nearby!

2. Dress for the occasion

Choose loose-fitting clothes that you can layer up. As soon as you recognize your body temperature rising, you can take off the extra layers and help your skin breathe; you can always put those layers on again if you get cold once the hot flashes pass. You can also have a pair of sandals in your bag to let your feet and ankles feel cooler if socks and shoes feel like a hotbox.

3. Consider herbal dietary supplements

Herbs like black cohosh, Siberian rhubarb and red clover are well-known for helping relieve menopausal signs like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. These plants contain active compounds that work with your body's biochemistry, supporting balance and easing menopausal signs. For example, red clover has phytoestrogens, plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body.

But foraging for these plants yourself may not be the most practical option. Women seeking a nonhormonal approach turn to plant-based dietary supplements, proactively supporting their bodies through the menopausal transition. Pro tip: Choose high-quality supplements for maximum results.

In addition to Siberian rhubarb and black cohosh, here are four herbs that work with different mechanisms in your body, which may help relieve the signs of menopause. Speak with your doctor before adding these herbs (or any dietary supplement) to your routine.

  • Dong quai
  • Chaste tree
  • Licorice
  • Knot wood (lignan extract)

4. Don’t sweat the little things

Yes, easier said than done, but for some women a stress-packed day can bring on the heat. While you think about due dates, bills and what to cook for dinner, cortisol levels rise, your heartbeat quickens, and the next thing you know, you're feeling hot and sweaty.

Prioritize your peace of mind. The next time you feel overwhelmed, practice stress management skills to help your body better handle stress. Take a deep breath in and ask yourself, "Does it really need my attention and energy?" Adding dietary supplements that encourage a healthy stress response, like ashwagandha, can be a proactive way to help your body keep an even keel.

Some research also shows that cultivating a connection with your body and adding mind-body practices like meditation, tai chi and qi gong to your daily routine not only improves your overall health significantly but they also may help improve signs of menopause.

5. Prioritize uninterrupted sleep

We all know sleep is one of the cornerstones of health and well-being. And that doesn't change during menopause. If you spend your nights tossing and sweating, apart from robbing you of your beauty sleep, it could be setting you up for experiencing more signs of perimenopause or menopause (we're looking at you, hot flashes). You can help yourself get better sleep by ensuring your bedroom environment fosters restful nights. Here are four tips to keep your sweet dreams cool.

  1. Keep your bed comfortable: Choose sheets that let your skin breathe; think bamboo, Egyptian cotton or linen that help keep you cool at night. Avoid polyester or other materials that can trap body heat and contribute to night sweats.
  2. Make your bedroom dark: Get heavy curtains or blinds that keep the light out and minimize screen time and technology in the room (no TVs, tablets or phones!). We're biologically designed to respond to light cues, so if your bedroom isn't dark by the time you're going to bed, it'll be that much harder to catch restful Zzzs. When you're scrolling in bed, the light from your screen sends "stay awake" signals to your brain, which isn't ideal for a good night's sleep.
  3. Keep it cool: Make sure your bedroom is cool when you go to bed. A cool sleeping environment helps lower your temperature, making it easier to experience deep sleep.
  4. Have a bedtime routine: Build nighttime habits that will help you go to bed (and wake up) at the same time. Have an herbal tea, and swap night TV for journaling or reading an hour or two before bed to help your body wind down.

6. Incorporate daily body movement

This one may sound contradictory; if exercise makes you sweat, why would you voluntarily put yourself through that? Research shows that staying physically active can help your body better regulate temperature.

But don't worry, you don't have to spend hours in the gym to reap the many health benefits of exercise. Carve out 30 to 45 minutes in your day, at least five days a week, to get the health-promoting benefits of exercise. The best exercise is the one you like doing—whether that's going for brisk walks, playing pickleball, swimming, or yoga, choose exercises that you'll continue to do regularly. Incorporate some light weightlifting and resistance training exercises to help maintain muscle mass.

7. Manage a healthy weight

Research has shown that women who are overweight are more likely to experience hot flashes. That's because excess body fat can disrupt the body's ability to regulate temperature and makes it more susceptible to increased temperatures.

Maintaining a healthy weight is more than looking good in your favorite pair of jeans; it's about feeling good inside and out. When you're at a healthy weight, your hormones are balanced, your energy levels keep you going and nothing can stop you—not even menopause!

8. Keep a menopause journal

Ok, this one seems weird, but hear us out. Your day-to-day could be causing you to experience more hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal signs. Pay attention to how your habits (including the foods you eat) relate to your menopause journey. Do you notice more night sweats after eating spicy foods or drinking wine? By noticing patterns between your daily habits and when you experience hot flashes, you can help avoid triggering one, since they come without an invitation anyway.

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What are hot flashes?

Ladies, as you know, hot flashes are the extreme heat that dissipates through your body at any time of the day (or night). The suffocating heat that spreads through your chest, up to your head and down your legs, leaving you soaked in sweat is thought to be related to the natural decline of estrogen levels that are the hallmark of the inevitable transition to perimenopause and menopause. To make matters worse, hot flashes can be accompanied by other discomforts, including mood swings.

Many women, as much as 75 percent, experience hot flashes that can last up to four minutes! Factors such as alcohol consumption, dietary choices and emotional stress can also result in you experiencing a hot flash.

What causes hot flashes?

The actual cause of hot flashes is not entirely understood. However, the prevailing theory is that it's related to a normal decline of estrogen that results in a thermoregulatory disruption, or your body's ability to regulate body temperature.

In other words, your body has a unique temperature threshold, and when your temperature rises (or dips), you break into a sweat or feel cold. As hormone levels naturally drop during menopause, it impacts several biological pathways, including how your body regulates temperature.

What happens during a hot flash?

You know what a hot flash feels like, but what's going on "behind the scenes" to result in such a hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable mess? It has to do with your body's temperature threshold. As you start to feel your temperature rise, biological pathways associated with regulating your temperature signal your blood vessels to expand, so you can release heat through your skin. That's why you end up soaked in sweat from head to toe.

Arguably, you could say your hot flashes aren't the bad guy—as pesky as they are, it's your body finding its way to a new balance.

Can Hot Flashes Stop and Start Again?

Absolutely! Starting and stopping is variable and individualized, not necessarily based on a phase of perimenopause or menopause. In other words, don't sing victory yet—since hot flashes and night sweats can be triggered by several factors, they can also start and stop during menopause. (Oh, the joys of being a woman!)

The good news is that with the right lifestyle habits like eating the right foods (think Mediterranean-style!), staying active, managing stress, getting uninterrupted sleep, connecting with your body and learning what triggers them, you can ease the signs of this new transition.

About the Author: Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Digital Content Writer.


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