Hot Flashes and Menopause

According to WebMD, as many as two-thirds of menopausal women in America suffer from hot flashes. Hot flashes are caused by lowered estrogen levels, and estrogen has a direct effect on the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls circadian cycles, body temperature, and other functions. It may be that this drop in estrogen somehow confuses the hypothalamus because it cannot read the body’s temperature correctly and fluctuating body temperatures result. When hot flashes and menopause happens, you may feel as if you the woman pictured here does: It’s only a matter of time before you’re all wet.

The intensity, length, and symptoms of hot flashes vary. For instance, some women experience intense hot flashes that involve their face and upper body, or sometimes they experience rapid heartbeats. Other women may hardly notice a thing. Hot flashes can last a short time or may plague a women for life, although usually the intensity decreases with time. Some women may also experience anxiety, dizziness, nausea, or sweating, and sometimes a woman many even experience an uneasy feeling before the hot flash and then chills after it occurs.

One thing is for certain, hot flashes are disruptive and often unpredictable. Many women complain they occur at the most importune time, and sometimes they are so bothersome, women can’t sleep becausee they are so disruptive. In fact, some women’s temperatures fluctuate as much as six degrees centigrade, which, of course, makes it extremely difficult to function, let alone sleep.

Hot flashes can also be triggered by

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • heat
  • hot foods
  • smoking
  • spicy foods
  • stress
  • tight clothing

There are several options for hot flashes. For instance, vitamin B complex and vitamin E can often help, as can ibuprofen. Doctors also prescribe blood pressure medications, antiseizure medications, hormones, or antidepressants. Another option comes from well-known herbalist and author Rosemary Gladstar. In her book Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health, and Vitality, she recommends several things to help with hot flashes. One suggestion is a sage tea called “Heat Relief.” To make the infusion combine

  • 2 parts black cohosh
  • 2 parts motherwort
  • 2 parts sage
  • 1 part blue vervain
  • 1 part chaste tree berry

Use 1 teaspoon of the above mixture per 1 cup hot water, and steep for 30 minutes. Gladstar recommends you drink up to 3 cups in 1/4 cup doses daily.

To learn more about menopausal symptoms, read Perimenopause and You!, and if you’re interested in learning about supplements and foods that can aid and reduce hot flashes and menopause symptoms, read Menopause Supplements and Menopause Diet. In addition, if you’re interested in clothing that may help you stay dry, read Hot Flashes and Staying Dry. If you’ve wondered about bio-identicals, you can also read, Bio-identical to learn more about them.


  1. my mom is 52 and is still menopause-free. i hope i last that long. 🙂

  2. I’m reading parts of your blog to my wife here, because she’s been experiencing just what you’re describing. She responded, “Didn’t you tell me it’s all in my head?”

    Well, I thought I heard once that only American women experience these hot flashes during menopause. Since it wasn’t universal, pundits thought maybe it was something other than menopause. But I don’t remember where I heard all that.

  3. I’m 45 and have not had any premenopausal symptoms yet. My mother had a hysterectomy at a young age, so I don’t know when hers began.
    I will face it when it comes.
    Thanks for the info.

  4. I started peri-menopause 2 years ago. Geri, are you reading my mind? Because you keep posting about things that pertain to me and my family lol
    Really, I quit smoking two years ago and almost immediately started having hot flashes. I think my body was just really angry with me lol. My dr. put me on something, I believe it was the bio-identical hormones. It didn’t work for me though and the hot flashes don’t bother me too much.

  5. I just went to your link on peri-menopausal symptoms. OMG!! I could identify with almost the entire list. Thank goodness I am not alone in my suffering. I’m sure it will get worse before it gets better 🙁

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