Hot Flashes: Why You Have Them and How to Find Relief
The most common complaint of women experiencing menopause is the “hot flash”, a sudden, intense feeling of heat which can result in a flushed face and sweating. But what causes a hot flash?
Why Hot Flashes Happen
During the menopause and post-menopause stages of a woman’s life, there is a sharp decrease in ovarian estrogen production. Estrogen is a group of hormones that play an essential role in the development and function of female secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, pubic hair, and the regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproductive system.
Studies (1) show that low estrogen levels may trigger vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes.
There are three forms of estrogen.
The Three Forms of Estrogen
As explained in our Hormone Series on Estrogen, the term “estrogen” refers to three forms:
Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3). These three forms of estrogen work in tandem in the body to regulate and control reproductive health in both men and women.
Estradiol is what we typically think of as “estrogen.” It is the most potent form of estrogen of the three. It also has the greatest effect on the body’s estrogen-specific hormone receptors. Estradiol also stimulates cell growth and proliferation in the uterus (building the uterine wall for childbearing).
Estrone is a form of estrogen and the only type found in women after menopause. Small amounts of estrone are present in most tissues of the body, mainly fat and muscle. The body can convert estrone to estradiol and estradiol to estrone. This form of estrogen is what may cause obese women’s levels of estrogen to increase during perimenopause.
Estriol is the “weak” form of estrogen and is considered less potent than the estradiol form. However, research has shown that estriol’s weakness may be its strength; estriol (through topical application) does not come with the harmful side effects of traditional estrogen therapy regimes.
In addition to suffering with uncomfortable hot flashes (or “night sweats” if they occur during sleep), many women of menopausal age will experience problems such as:
- Painful sex due to a lack of vaginal lubrication
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness
- Headaches or accentuation of pre-existing migraines
- Trouble concentrating
What You Can Do to Have Fewer and Less Severe Hot Flashes?
Many women have found that by following these lifestyle tips, they can help avoid triggering hot flashes:
- Drink ice water or other cooling drinks and avoid spicy foods and hot drinks such as coffee or tea.
- Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the day. A rise in body temperature late in the evening may interfere with your ability to sleep.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Women who are overweight experience hot flashes with greater severity and frequency. (2)
- If you smoke, find a smoking cessation program in your area. Women who smoke experience a higher number of hot flashes. (3)
Despite following these suggestions, many women still struggle with hot flash discomfort. Fortunately, another treatment option has been proven to offer relief.
2) Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has helped millions of women relieve menopausal symptoms and restore hormone levels.
Unlike synthetic hormones, which researchers have found can put patients at high risk for serious health conditions such as breast cancer, heart attacks, and stroke, bioidentical hormones fit perfectly into the hormone receptor “locks” of the cells in the body, meaning that they are 100% identical to the hormones your body produces naturally. They are derived from a botanical source found in wild yam and soy, and then synthesized in a lab to be identical to your naturally produced hormones. Bioidentical hormones have the exact molecular structure as the hormones made by your body. They are safe because they bind to hormone receptor sites in the exact same way that your own hormones do, so they do not trigger side effects. Which bioidentical hormones you need, and how much, will depend on your individual symptoms, hormone health history, and the results of your bloodwork or saliva test.
If you’re suffering from hot flashes and other side effects that result from low estrogen, we can help. At Dr. Randolph’s Ageless Wellness Center, we have decades of experience in hormone replacement therapy and offer a wide range of products services designed to help you reach and maintain hormone balance. Bi-Est, our newest estrogen cream is specifically formulated to offer the best 80/20 balance of estriol and estradiol that maximizes the health benefits of estrogen.
Find Relief for Hot Flashes with Estrogen Balance with Dr. Randolph
At the Ageless & Wellness Medical Center, Dr. Randolph recommends supplements based on very specific criteria per patient. Age, life cycle, symptoms, and many other factors are considered to determine an individual’s supplemental needs.
Consider visiting our medical practice to set up and appointment to start finding your balance. If you can’t visit our office, consider a Personal Hormone Tele-Consultation, which includes a self-test kit plus a phone consultation with one of our clinicians. Our goal is to help patients find wellness and balance in their everyday lives through natural and effective methodologies. We’d be proud to help you on your journey!
- Freedman, Robert R. “Menopausal hot flashes: mechanisms, endocrinology, treatment.” The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology vol. 142 (2014): 115-20. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.08.010
- The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). "Obesity can lead to more severe hot flashes and other menopause symptoms: Study confirms that a higher body mass index is related to a higher prevalence of certain menopause symptoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170531084443.htm>.
- Cochran, Chrissy J et al. “Cigarette smoking, androgen levels, and hot flushes in midlife women.” Obstetrics and gynecology vol. 112,5 (2008): 1037-44. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e318189a8e2
- Takahashi K, Okada M, Ozaki T, et al. Safety and efficacy of oestriol for symptoms of natural or surgically induced menopause. Hum Reprod. 2000 May;15(5):1028-36.
- Melamed M, Castano E, Notides AC, Sasson S. Molecular and kinetic basis for the mixed agonist/antagonist activity of estriol. Mol Endocrinol. 1997 Nov;11(12):1868-78.
- Weiderpass E, Baron JA, Adami HO, et al. Low-potency oestrogen and risk of endometrial cancer: a case-control study. Lancet. 1999 May 29;353(9167):1824-8.