Hot Flashes in Women
Hot flashes are a common symptom of the menopausal transition when your body begins to naturally produce less estrogen. They’re uncomfortable and can last for many years.
Decreased estrogen levels directly impact the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates, among other things, sex hormones and body temperature. When estrogen levels fall, the hypothalamus gets confused, alerts the body to get rid of excess heat and causes a chain reaction, which results in a hot flash.
Causes of hot flashes in women
Hot flashes and night sweats are a major red flag for hormone imbalance and are most often causes by a drop in estrogen levels related to menopause. Most women experience hot flashes before, during and after menopause or as a result of a thyroid problem:
- Menopause: Menopause is the normal and natural transition in a woman’s life that begins between the ages of 35-55. During this time, your ovaries get smaller and stop producing hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Menopause has 4 distinct stages: perimenopause (before), early menopause (surgical removal of female reproductive organs), menopause and post-menopause. Symptoms like hot flashes can begin during perimenopause, 3-5 years before the actual start of menopause.
- Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism: Women of menopausal age have a slightly higher risk of developing an underactive (hypo) or overactive (hyper) thyroid, both of which affect hormone production. This condition may mimic (or worsen) symptoms of menopause.
Risk factors that may increase your risk of hot flashes
Some women may not experience hormonal hot flashes as they go through menopause, and unfortunately the exact reason remains unknown. Here are a few factors that could increase the risk of hot flashes in women:
- Excess weight: Women who are overweight or obese tend to have more hot flashes during menopause than those who are leaner because estrogen is stored in fat tissue. Hormone replacement therapy can help relieve symptoms of menopause that interfere with weight loss, allowing you to take control of your body weight and ease symptoms.
- Race and ethnicity: Studies suggest that Black and Latina women may begin perimenopause earlier, experience more intense symptoms and have a longer transition period.
- Tobacco use: One of the most common risk factors of hot flashes is cigarette smoking. The reason for this is because the chemicals in cigarette smoke lower estrogen levels in women. Toxins in cigarettes can also damage the ovarian follicles, causing them to age prematurely and produce less estrogen.
Symptoms of hot flashes in women
Hot flashes in women can be very mild, or strong enough to wake you up (also called night sweats). They can last between 30 seconds and 10 minutes and often present with one or more of the following symptoms:
- A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through your chest, arms, neck and face
- A flushed appearance with red, splotchy skin
- Feelings of anxiety
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased perspiration, particularly in the upper body
- A chill as the hot flash subsides
If you’re experiencing any of these or other symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, talk to your one of our specialist providers to find out if hormone replacement therapy is right for you. Systemic estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment for the relief of menopausal hot flashes and night sweats.
Hormone Replacement Therapy for hot flashes
Hormone replacement therapy may be an option for hot flashes in women, especially when the symptoms greatly affect their quality of life. Reintroducing estrogen into the body can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of hot flashes.
At SynergenX, we provide a custom approach to treating menopausal hot flashes that includes a tailored plan, ongoing monitoring of hormone levels and variable dosing.