Although most people associate hot flashes with menopause (menstrual cessation), some women can also have them as part of their menstrual cycle (period).
According to one study, about 1 in 10 women with regular periods experience hot flashes, and more than 4 in 10 experience hot flashes in the first few years after menopause.
This article will discuss premenstrual hot flashes, symptoms, causes, management, and more.
What are hot flashes?
During hot flashes, your upper body suddenly feels very hot, sweaty, and may become flushed. Generally, menstrual hot flashes last from half a minute to a few minutes.
Some people have only one hot flash a day, while others have more frequent. If hot flashes occur at night, they may cause night sweats from the heat.
Hot flashes most often occur in the years before and after menopause. Up to 80% of women report menopausal hot flashes. But some women use them as part of a typical menstrual cycle. Hot flashes are thought to occur due to changes in the levels of the hormone estrogen produced by the ovaries.
Hormone levels change throughout the menstrual cycle and help build the lining of the uterus, which is then released during the bleeding that occurs during menstruation.Hormone cycles are very complex and are endocrinologist.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Noticing or even writing about changes in your body can help you and your healthcare provider determine whether your hot flashes are related to your period and your normal hormonal changes.
symptoms of hot flashes
Hot flashes or symptoms associated with hot flashes include:
- warm body temperature
- flushing of the skin
What causes hot flashes?
Scientists believe that hot flashes are an overreaction of the body to a slight increase in body temperature.This hypothalamusthe part of the brain responsible for keeping your body temperature stable, causes your body to do something to cool down.
The medical term for hot flashes is vasomotor symptom. When your brain senses your body temperature rising, it causes blood vessels throughout the body to dilate (enlarge) in an attempt to cool your body. This can cause flushing and a warm feeling in the skin. Intense heat can cause sweating during hot flashes. As the body cools, the moisture from sweating can cause chills or wet clothes.
Most women find that hot flashes occur when they enter perimenopause, which is the time leading up to menopause, when a woman’s fertility (fertility) begins to gradually decline, but she continues to menstruate.
During perimenopause, your menstrual cycle may change. Hormonal changes in women always cause their menstruation as part of their cycle. As your body begins to age, it is normal for hormone levels to be less reliable, and the timing and amount of bleeding between menstrual periods often changes.
Declining estrogen levels are thought to be responsible for hot flashes during menstruation and menopause. Part of the normal change as you approach menopause is that the female reproductive system produces fewer eggs and releases fewer hormones as you age.
The medical community continues to learn more about menopause and hot flashes. Ongoing research looks at other hormones and signaling chemicals in the body.
possible hot flash triggers
Research is underway to understand how much different lifestyle behaviors affect hot flashes. Some of the reported triggers for hot flashes include:
- Spicy food
- too hot
- overweight or obese
How to manage hot flashes
Hot flashes can be uncomfortable, but they’re usually not dangerous. Therefore, healthcare providers would recommend focusing on symptom management. Unfortunately, there is no known way to completely prevent hot flashes.
Staying cool can help you reduce the number of hot flashes. When hot flashes occur, try to cool your body down. Possible technologies include:
- wear layers and remove excess clothing
- Cool your body with a fan
- eat cool food
- drink cold drinks
Estrogen or progesterone supplements, also known as hormone therapy (HT), are often used to treat hot flashes. However, certain conditions make HT unsafe, including stroke, breast cancer, and liver disease.
Antidepressants that increase the brain chemical serotonin can help control hot flashes in some people. Doctors and scientists continue to research what works best to manage vasomotor symptoms.
You may want to consider lifestyle changes as the first way to manage hot flashes. Look for patterns in your food, activity, and lifestyle that may help you understand what triggers hot flashes. You can then reduce or eliminate these to improve your symptoms.
Research shows that many previously thought lifestyle factors, such as alcohol, exercise and diet, have mixed evidence as risk factors. However, smoking and anxiety are strongly linked to hot flashes. Track your own experience and decide what works best for your body.
Hot flashes may be more common if you are overweight or obese. Other research shows that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce hormonal hot flashes.
Researchers continue to investigate alternative treatments to reduce or control hot flashes. Unfortunately, there is no therapy that is consistently effective in research. The North American Menopause Association’s position statement says there is no research evidence that yoga, exercise, acupuncture, herbal supplements, or relaxation can be used as a way to manage hot flashes.
When to see a healthcare provider
Most of the time, while hot flashes can be very uncomfortable and painful, they are usually not a sign of a medical problem. While there’s usually no reason to worry about hot flashes, sometimes they can be a symptom of other medical conditions, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider if you start getting hot flashes as part of your cycle.
Both conditions must be diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on menstrual changes and blood tests. None of these are very common, but good communication with your medical team is the best way to resolve any issues you may have.
Hot flashes, when you experience sudden sweating and flushing, are usually symptoms of approaching menopause. However, you may find that you experience hot flashes early in life as part of your normal cycle. Some ways to manage hot flashes are to avoid spicy foods, drink cold drinks, and limit caffeine. Hot flashes are usually not medically related, but discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
Hot flashes can be destructive and embarrassing, especially if you’re sweating profusely at work or at the grocery store. Hot flashes are a normal part of life for almost half of women, but there are things that can help you manage them. Contact your healthcare team to see what they may recommend for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age do hot flashes start?
Hot flashes usually start around age 52, which is the average age at which a woman goes through menopause and has not had her period for at least a full year. They report that it is typical to have perimenopausal symptoms about 4 years before the official onset of menopause. During this transition period, women may begin to experience hot flashes, usually around the age of 45-50.
What are the signs of your period?
You may experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 7 to 14 days before your period. These symptoms may include breast tenderness or swelling, cramping, headache, back pain, fatigue, and mood swings.
Are hot flashes the same as night sweats?
In most cases, night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night. Generally, your body overheats and tries to cool you down by widening the blood vessels near the skin and causing sweating. Usually, these are annoying, but not dangerous. However, there are some causes of hot flashes and night sweats that require immediate medical attention, so be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you start to experience either.