Navigating the Stormy Weather of Menopause
Part II: Hot Flashes
Like so many women in the prime of their lives, Cheryl Miller was too busy with life’s responsibilities to pay attention to perimenopause’s first signals. Join us for Part II in our series on Navigating the Stormy Weather of Menopause.
Perimenopause literally means the time “around” menopause and is a term used to describe the beginning of the estrogen decline leading to menopause. However, many women use the term “perimenopause” to describe the time when they first begin to notice menopausal symptoms.
Signal: The hormonal heat wave known as “hot flashes.”
Cheryl recalls a road trip to her husband’s 20th high school reunion during an icy winter. She was sweating and asked her husband to crank up the car’s air conditioner.
“I was sitting there in short sleeves, no coat, with my arms raised up over the vent to get cool air because I was having waterworks under my left armpit,” she says. “Meanwhile, my husband was wearing a hoodie, a scarf and a big heavy jacket, and he was just freezing. When we got to the reunion, I ended up putting on a jacket and never taking it off because it was just too humiliating.”
Storm advisory: As Cheryl discovered, hot flashes can hit when you least expect them.
How to weather it: “Perimenopausal women may get occasional hot flashes when their estrogen levels drop, often around the time of their period,” says Dr. Pugmire.
“First, try to stay cool—both physically and emotionally. Having emotional reactions can trigger hot flashes, as can letting your body get a bit too warm,” says Dr. Pugmire.
Dr. Pugmire also suggests wearing layered clothing to allow for flexibility and to keep the temperature around you lower. Low-speed fans can do the trick, along with clothing made of fabric that can wick moisture away from your body. Occasionally, medications can be helpful but hot flashes are not dangerous to your health.
If you enjoyed this article, you may like our other articles:Return to Health Matters for Women, December 2014 Edition