Let’s face it…soaking your bed in the middle of the night with a pool of sweat isn’t sexy. Drenching a beautiful silk blouse while presenting your PowerPoint is embarrassing. Freezing cold one minute and feeling flushed with heat just isn’t fun. Probably the most recognizable and “stereotypical” of the perimenopause and menopause symptoms, hot flashes are a total drag. If they haven’t happened to you, you have probable seen someone experience them. Sometimes we laugh because what else are you going to do? Hot flashes, sometimes called as “night sweats” (even though they may occur all day long) are characterized by a rapid and powerful surge of heat to your face and upper body.
Hot flashes can last a few seconds or can go on for over an hour and are often joined by sweating, increased heart rate, nausea, headache, anxiety, dizziness, and weakness. It is a stifling feeling that can make your face flushed and red. Hot flashes are often accompanied by, and end with, an equally sudden chill.The good news?
This one is probably an easy fix. In most cases, hot flashes are the quickest and fastest symptom to correct with proper hormone replacement.
Hot flashes are usually a product of low estrogen. E2, one of three types of estrogen produced by a woman’s body, is the workhorse for most estrogen functions. E2 controls hot flashes and night sweats. Low estrogen levels affect the hypothalamus which is the part of the brain that controls body temperature. As levels of E2 diminish, the hypothalamus is fooled into thinking the body’s temperature is operating at too high a level. In an attempt to regulate this imaginary extra heat, the hypothalamus sends a cool down signal which causes blood vessels to dilate resulting in an increase in heart rate and lots of sweat.