Menopause is defined as a 1 year or 12 month period without menstrual cycles. The average age for menopause to begin is 51, but it will vary from woman to woman and can occur during one’s 40s.
Causes of Menopause
Menopause is a complex biological process caused by hormonal, changes including a decrease in levels of the reproductive hormones luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), estrogen, and progesterone. One of the most significant changes taking place at this time is the depletion of ovarian follicles, which leads to a drop in estrogen production. Estrogen levels begin to fall around 6-12 months before menopause, during perimenopause. At this time, many women experience the discomforts of hot flashes and night sweats.
A hot flash is a sudden warm sensation on the skin, which is usually felt over the face, neck, and chest. It may also cause flushing or reddening of one’s skin. Around 80% of women going through menopause experience them. Hot flashes may become so intense that they cause one to sweat. If you lose too much body heat, you may feel chilly afterward. The occurrence of hot flashes varies and can range from one or two a week to several within an hour.
Night sweats are hot flashes that happen at night when you sleep. They are often more noticeable and bothersome than hot flashes because they wake you up in the middle of the night. If you are experiencing sudden unintentional weight loss, night sweats, and a fever you can measure with a thermometer be sure to consult a doctor as it may be something more serious than menopause.
Medical experts believe hot flashes and night sweats are caused by the depletion of certain hormones and the rise of others. Believe it or not, men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy can get hot flashes as well. Medical treatments for menopause can consist of hormone replacement therapy and/or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. If you prefer a natural or herbal approach, then try one or a combination of the following to get relief from menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
1. Black Cohosh
This herb’s root has been shown to be effective at reducing hot flashes and night sweats. Although it was once believed that black cohosh acted like estrogen, this is now known not to be the case, which reduces the concern about its possible negative effects on estrogen sensitive tissue such as the breasts and uterus.
2. Evening Primrose
Evening primrose oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid, which plays a role in the production of short range signaling molecules known as prostaglandins. As an oral supplement, it may reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
3. Licorice Extract
Licorice extract supports menopause symptoms because it contains isoflavones, such as glabridin. This substance is thought to behave like estrogen in the body and may help reduce the frequency of hot flashes.
4. Red Clover Extract
Red clover contains the isoflavones biochanin A and formononetin, which are believed to have biological activity. Studies have determined that red clover can reduce the daily number of hot flashes you experience.
5. Wild Yam Extract
Wild yam is known to contain diosgenin, which can be used to make progesterone in a laboratory. It has been shown to improve blood flow which may assist with symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats.
Herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are not the only way to deal with menopause. You can also alleviate hot flashes and night sweats by making some simple adjustments to your lifestyle.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Breathing is the most natural action in the world, yet many people fail to do it properly. By focusing on your breathing and inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly, you will soon feel a difference compared to light, shallow breathing that may have become your norm. If you are breathing correctly, you will see your abdomen rise and fall with each breath. Not only does mindful breathing help to calm your nervous system, it can also ease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
Take Time to Relax
Letting stress build up can worsen the effects of hot flashes and night sweats. Relaxing may help with hot flashes by reducing production of the stress hormone cortisol. Creative visualization is an effective way to relax, and all it takes is your imagination. Sit or lie in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and imagine you are lying on a sunny beach, with the sounds of the gently lapping ocean all around you. If the beach is not your ideal relaxation spot, imagine your favorite scene. You can also use music or sound effects to help you create a vivid visualization.
Get Your Yoga On
Many women have found yoga beneficial for hot flashes and night sweats. In a pilot study, 58 perimenopausal women and postmenopausal women who were experiencing at least 4 hot flashes per day participated in yoga classes, and reported a significant decrease in the frequency of hot flashes. Experts believe that yoga may help by giving you a sense of control over your menopausal symptoms.
When the heat is on, don’t panic. Hot flashes and night sweats, though uncomfortable, are not the end of the world. Try to think positively about menopause as the beginning of a new and exciting stage in your life. Making some nutritional and lifestyle changes can ease your transition through menopause and leave you feeling like a new woman.