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Are hot flushes ruining your day (or your night?) You’re in good company – around 75% of women will experience hot flashes during perimenopause. For some, they can linger for months or even years after menopause hits!

But just because they are common doesn’t mean you just have to grit your teeth and bear it. There are steps we can take to reduce (or even eliminate!) this pesky, sweaty symptom.

What are hot flushes, anyway?

There’s a good chance you have a good idea, but I thought I’d cover this just to be safe! Hot flushes (or hot flashes, depending on your preference) are a hallmark symptom of perimenopause. The fancy medical terminology is vasomotor symptoms or VMS.

The symptoms include:

  • Feeling a flush spreading from your chest up into your head
  • Getting red in the face
  • Finding yourself sweatier and hotter than everyone around you
  • Burning skin
  • Feeling chilly afterwards (thanks to the blanket of sweat on your skin)

Some may also feel dizzy, nauseated, have a sensation of pressure in their head or even get palpitations alongside their hot flushes.

Both the intensity of symptoms and the length of episodes can vary from person to person. Sometimes the flashes are sudden, and others creep in slowly. It’s also common for them to wake you up at night (because you don’t struggle enough to get a decent night’s sleep during perimenopause, am I right??)

The average hot flush lasts for around 4 minutes. You might get several over the course of an hour, or it might just be one episode every few days.

The good news? Hot flushes are not harmful – they’re just annoying and uncomfortable. But ‘annoying and uncomfortable’ is enough reason to address them, especially if you’re juggling other perimenopause symptoms.

What causes hot flushes?

As with a lot of things in women’s health, modern medicine isn’t 100% sure. But there are some solid theories, including the effect of your hypothalamus.

This is a part of your brain that is pretty much a control centre for organs including your ovaries, adrenals and kidneys. It’s also where your body temperature is managed.

The brain has a range of temperature variation that it’s comfortable with. That’s why the average person can go out into the cold or drink a cold drink without shivering violently, or stand near an oven without dripping in sweat.

Unfortunately, in perimenopause, this zone of temperature regulation narrows. So the slightest change in body temperature freaks the brain out and sends it into overdrive. As a result, you’ll drown in your own sweat to cool you down or warm up with a sudden flush. It’s a bit ironic that your brain is trying to keep you in a comfortable temp zone, only to make you incredibly uncomfortable!

Ok, so what influences this temperature zone in the brain?

Oestrogen, of course! You know how we always talk about the rollercoaster of oestrogen throughout perimenopause? This affects your temp zone – specifically, the big plunge in oestrogen after a spike.

There’s also the relationship between oestrogen and serotonin. When oestrogen crashes, it can take your serotonin with it. This throws off your balance of cortisol, adrenaline and other brain chemicals, which has a knock-on effect on the hypothalamus.

And of course, when the body is responding to stress with cortisol and adrenaline, your body temperature increases thanks to increased activity in the hypothalamus.

On the upside? If we can smooth out the rollercoaster ride, you’re less likely to a) get flushes in the first place and b) have severe symptoms.

Help me out Sarah – what can I do to tackle these hot flushes?

First, let’s just touch on what your GP is likely to offer you if you seek their help. Unless you’re working with an integrative practitioner, your most likely scenario is being prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the Pill or progesterone.

Now note – these will alleviate your symptoms. But at some point, you’ll need to wean yourself off the hormones. And when you do, the symptoms will come back (and probably with a vengeance, eek!)

That’s why my approach is to handle them now, rather than later.

Here are my top tips for reducing hot flushes naturally:

Manage your stress – I know, this doesn’t feel practical or doable for a lot of women. But it is critical because you are more sensitive and less resilient to stress, and stress is a big trigger for flushing. Even a 5-minute break of taking deep breaths out in the fresh air can do the trick!

Eat a diet of 80-90% nourishing foods – getting nutrients in is a non-negotiable for so many reasons! If you’re not sure how to get started with this, make sure you download my FREE Chaos to Calm Balanced Meal Formula.

Avoid stimulants and known triggers – I’m talking alcohol, spicy food, coffee… yep, I feel like the Grinch saying so, but you need to know the food and drinks that are triggers for you. If you’re unsure, keep a food and symptom diary and look for patterns.

Nourish your liver – the liver is a must for anything related to smoothing out your hormones. An easy tip here is to switch one (or more!) of your coffees for a dandelion tea or dandelion chai. Dandelion is fantastic for liver support and has a similar bitter taste to coffee.

Identify and address underlying insulin resistance – one common reason why flushes start and don’t stop once menopause hits is insulin resistance (IR). If you have symptoms of IR, it’s worth getting tested. Remember, a normal blood glucose level isn’t enough to rule IR out as a contributor!

SICK OF YOUR HECTIC HORMONES DICTATING EVERYTHING?

If you are ready to feel cool (physically AND mentally!), calm, less stressed and able to put yourself first, book in for a free discovery call today. Together, we can explore how I can help you to support a healthy hormone balance and smooth the transition through perimenopause.