If you are anywhere in the menopause spectrum you will know about Hot Flushes! Along with lack of sleep, they are probably the most annoying, embarrassing and potentially debilitating part of going through the menopause.
After reading an article on the menopause, via The Telegraph, at the weekend, it made us realise how many women find hot flushes terribly difficult to deal with. We thought it would be a good idea to share an article on what we have found since launching LBA, in the hope that anyone out there who is suffering, will be able to find something, no matter how small, which might help them reduce their hot flushes or at least make them more bearable!
Interestingly, I found another post on The Telegraphs website regarding the menopause, highlighting how little women really understand this rather taboo subject:-
“The stigma around the menopause means many women simply aren’t ready for it when it occurs, making what can be a stressful time even tougher. According to a 2014 Nuffield Health survey of 3,275 UK women aged between 40 and 65, more than 67 per cent said there is a general lack of support or advice for those going through the menopause, with many failing to recognise the symptoms. Despite reporting joint and muscle ache, hot flushes, irregular periods, night sweats, mood swings and poor memory, 45 per cent of the women questioned did not link these to the menopause, with just under half (42 per cent) believing they were too young or too old, and a quarter of respondents putting it down to stress.”
These findings really don’t surprise us, we felt exactly the same when we started going through the menopause. I think Lucy was more aware of hers because she was told her treatment for breast cancer could bring the menopause on, and it did, extremely quickly! Whereas with mine, I truly don’t know when it first started, as I wasn’t aware of the various symptoms. I AM NOW!
We believe forewarned is forearmed and want to reach as many women as possible, with as much information as possible, to empower them to make the right choices for themselves and not to be embarrassed or shy about the subject. It really is just another life stage we have to go through, the same as periods, which we are generally taught about from a fairly young age. So why shouldn’t the menopause be talked about and dealt with as openly?
Back to Hot Flushes
The bane of many menopausal women’s lives! Not only are they very uncomfortable, rather embarrassing (at times) and difficult to deal with. They can also be the cause of other symptoms associated with the menopause, such as fatigue and irritability, because they have a nasty habit of keeping us awake at night.
So what can be done about them? I’ll start with the various things I’ve done myself, as I’ve tried a few and pretty much have mine under control. Firstly I know I’m very lucky, I genuinely believe I wasn’t getting them anywhere near as badly as other women. Secondly, I am still in perimenopause and have no idea if my hot flushes will become worse in the future. What I do know is I will do everything I can to manage them!
So here are a few relief strategies we’ve already looked at, plus some other’s which are already available or may soon be!
It’s extremely important to get yourself in to a good sleep pattern, rising and sleeping at the same times everyday. A good sleep pattern is important for everyone, from childhood through adulthood. Ensuring you have a good sleep routine promotes healthy sleep and daytime alertness. Plus good practices can prevent the development of sleep problems and disorders. Studies show the gap between getting just enough sleep and getting too little sleep may affect your health, your mood, your weight, and even your sex life.
Mr Perfect bought me a Jawbone UP 3 for my birthday, one of those bands you wear to monitor your steps. Mine also monitors my sleep and resting heart rate, I’m finding it really helpful in understanding my sleep pattern but also encouraging me to go to bed at a regular time and get up when I wake up!
We will be covering SLEEP in more detail later in the week and Lucy has taken on the challenge of finding different ways to help get a better nights sleep, so subscribe to our site to get regular updates to make sure you don’t miss out. Until then, why not try getting in to a good routine and see if it improves your flushes and general well-being?
You may have seen my previous blog on meditation (if not click here Meditation What, Why & How). In brief, I was rather cynical and didn’t think I’d get much benefit from it. I WAS WRONG. I used an App called HeadSpace (here’s the link Headspace 10 Free Sessions), even after the first 10 minute session I had a better nights sleep than since I’d started having hot flushes at night.
By calming and relaxing your mind and body, it aids you to get to sleep and have a more restful sleep. Whether it has any impact on the hot flushes I am unsure, mine certainly seemed to reduce and this may be to do with the positive effect on your cognitive behaviour (see more below). It also helped me to feel more relaxed and in control during the day.
When my hot flushes got to about 5-8 per night, I knew I needed a little more help! I posted something on Facebook, asking for advice and one of the remedies I was recommended was Nutrition FX Menopause 3 (Nutrition FX Link). Not cheap at over £30 for 3 months supply but on reading the website and the benefits, it sounded like it was exactly what I needed.
After a week of taking the tablets I felt NORMAL again. My hot flushes had reduced to no more than one a night, which meant I was getting far more sleep, which in turn gave me more energy, less irritability (not sure Mr Perfect would agree) and I just felt more in control and focused. I took this herbal supplement for 6 months and it definitely worked for me. The key ingredient is extract of phytoestrogen from Mung beans, this link tells you much more about the supplement and phytoestrogen, which is naturally occurring in many fruits, vegetables and seeds Nutrition FX Facts.
More recently, mainly because I ran out of the above, I started taking Menopace Plus, a Vitabiotics herbal supplement, which contains two different tablets to be taken once each day. I would say this takes the edge off the general tiredness and the hot flushes are still reduced, but I do seem to get them more than with the Nutrition FX Menopause. Needless to say, I have just put in an order for some more of those. However, the Menopace Plus does contain soya isoflavone, flaxseed lignans, sage and green tea extract, all of which are known to help with symptoms of the menopause.
Each of us is different in our make-up and therefore certain supplements will work for some but not others. They are currently working for me and may be something you want to look into to see if they can benefit you. If you have any questions or concerns you should speak to your health professional.
You may also be interested a recently launched, genuinely personalised vitamin service, called “Uniquely You“. Developed by Healthspan’s team of leading nutritionists. Uniquely You sets the new benchmark in health supplements by providing a convenient way to ensure that an individual is getting precisely the right daily supplements to support better health and wellbeing.
Uniquely You makes everything easy. From the fast online health questionnaire to the handy, pocket-sized, sealed sachet, each containing a personalised selection of daily tablets and capsules. Putting an end to multiple half-opened packs taking up valuable cupboard space (the vitamin graveyard!)
Uniquely You takes the guess-work out of choosing supplements and knowing which ones can be taken safely together and are the most appropriate for you. Uniquely You does all the hard work by providing the combination of premium and evidence based supplements personal to an individuals needs. Click the following link to read our review and find out more about how it works Uniquely You.
This product has been specifically designed to help anyone who suffers with hot flushes, night sweats or just general over heating! It actually has many uses but I will concentrate on hot flushes and night sweats.
The Chillow is one of my favourite finds. An innovative product, which does exactly what it says on the box. IT KEEPS YOU COOL AT NIGHT or in the day for that matter. You can use it whenever you want to!
It is a slim plastic covered pad, which you can either put on top of, or inside your pillow case. Once activated, it feels very much like memory foam, so is comfortable to rest your head on. The clever part is that it stays cool. So if like me you are a constant pillow flipper, which again keeps you awake, you won’t ever have to flip again!
It’s a pleasant level of coolness and I found mine stayed cool all night. The manufacturers don’t state this, as it can be dependent on how well you activated it or quite how hot you get, but believe me, it will definitely keep you cooler than not having one!
I’ve done a full review on this little beauty, which you can find by clicking here Chillow, you can also follow the link on the linked page to buy one.
I can just see some of you yawning at this point! I know, I hate being told I need to change my diet, it feels like for one reason or another I’ve had to do that my whole life, for vanity in my younger days and now for health reasons! That said, reviewing your diet and even making some small changes could really help reduce your hot flushes and improve other menopausal symptoms.
Surely it’s got to be worth giving it a try to get some relief? I’m not going to go into great detail, instead I am listing a number of foods which have been shown to help. If you add a mixture of these to your diet you will be doing yourself a huge favour:-
Raw broccoli, cauliflower and celery
Increase your intake of phyto-oestrogens by eating more:-
Soya milk, soya flour, linseeds, tofu, tempeh, miso, pumpkins seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, celery, rhubarb edamame beans and green beans
What to avoid
Stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night – they’re notorious for setting off hot flushes.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates (white rice, pasta, white potatoes and bread) can also have a huge impact, not only on hot flushes but also your mood swings and energy levels. Refined sugars cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which can cause the the ratio of estrogen to progesterone (known for keeping us calm and happy) to be way too high, leading to irritability, anxiety, insomnia and more. Plus as women reach menopause, symptoms get more intense and can include hot flashes and night sweats as well.
Whereas complex carbohydrates, fibre, protein and healthy fats promote more gradual increases and decreases in blood sugar and insulin, lowering the glycemic load and lifting the burden on your hormones. Reducing your refined sugar intake and swapping out refined carbs for complex carbs could have a significant impact on hot flushes and should also help your waistline!
There are many other nutritional foods you could add to your diet which can help, the above are just some examples. It’s worth having a search on the internet to find out more and also keep a diary of what you eat as you may find certain foods are triggers for your flushes. Lucy has written a blog on Sugar Addiction which is well worth a read!
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
If you are keen to learn more about CBT we would recommend reading “Managing Hot Flushes and Night Sweats” by Myra Hunter, which not only explains more about the menopause, hot flushes and nights sweats but also has a self help section on CBT and how you can use it to manage your symptoms click here to read our full review Managing Hot Flushes & Night Sweats.
I can hear you groaning this time! But seriously, it’s even more important to exercise as you get older, for many health reasons, hot flushes being only one of them! Studies have been undertaken which show women who undertake regular exercise are less likely to experience flushes than those who don’t.
Yoga and Thai Chi can help reduce stress levels, which in turn can reduce your flushes – plus they keep you supple as you get older.
Walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or gardening for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week is apparently sufficient to have a positive impact on flushes and get you outdoors (perhaps not swimming) to get that much needed Vitamin D. It will also have an uplifting effect on your mental state, not to mention the benefit to your heart and bones!
Of course you can go to the gym, zumba, pilates, aerobics etc etc, pretty much anything which takes your fancy, just remember the high impact exercise could bring on a flush, so make sure you take some cool water with you. In fairness, nobody will probably notice you flushing in a really energetic class!
Other Potential Remedies
New Research Study
I say remedies but there is no sure fire cure which works for everyone. That said, you may be delighted to hear of a new study being undertaken by Dr Julia Prague (Academic Clinical Fellow at Imperial College London). Clinical trials are currently being undertaken of a new non-hormonal, non-herbal medication for menopausal flushing, which will hopefully be effective for many women, especially those who are unable to have HRT.
We published an article back in February, detailing the research and looking for volunteers to take part in the study, if you suffer from hot flushes (at least 7 flushes/night sweats per 24 hours), are aged between 40-62, have not had cancer in the last 5 years and have not been on medication to prevent recurrence (such as tamoxifen) for the last 5 years and you would be interested in participating. Please click through to our full article with all the details Hot Flush Research. It may be too late for some people but this could be the answer to a lot of women’s prayers!
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
This tends to be a lot of women’s last resort. HRT became unpopular after studies in the early 2000’s which highlighted a link between HRT and Breast Cancer. More recent studies have shown that although there is some increased risk, which would appear to be in women who have taken HRT for over 5 years, the actual risk versus the benefits is not as significant as originally reported.
We are not doctors or experts (just two women struggling through the menopause and looking for solutions), so for anyone considering HRT, please take a look at our article in conjunction with NICE, which covers their new findings, risks and gives advice on how you should approach the subject of Menopause and treatments with your GP or medical practitioner, just click on this link HRT NICE Guidelines.
NHS Hot Flush Advice
- wearing light clothing
- keeping your bedroom cool at night
- taking a cool shower, using a fan or having a cold drink
- trying to reduce your stress levels
- avoiding potential triggers, such as spicy food, caffeine, smoking and alcohol
- taking regular exercise and losing weight if you’re overweight
If the flushes and sweats are frequent or severe, your GP may suggest taking HRT.
If HRT isn’t suitable for you, or you would prefer not to have it, your GP may recommend other medications that can help, such as clonidine (a high blood pressure medicine) or certain antidepressants.
These medications can cause unpleasant side effects, so it’s extremely important to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor before starting any treatment.
Hopefully you will find it useful having an overview of the various blogs we have done on hot flushes all in one place. If any are of particular interest simply click the link to the full article.
We’d also love to hear from you if you have found any products or coping strategies which have worked for you. Please either comment below or go to our contact page and send us a private email.
There are many other products and solutions out there, and as we continue with our journey of discovery we will be reviewing more and digging deeper into new solutions to combat hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms. If you know of any, we would love to hear from you!