Night Sweats, Hot Flashes, Weight Gain
Jamie is in agreement about the warning label, but for different reasons. While making a business phone in her home office, she experienced her first heat flash. She was already quite hot from the heat of the day. Her dog started barking in another area. Jamie quickly climbed onto the balcony to close the door. It was much quieter, but it was also warmer outside. Jamie felt her chest, neck, and face flushing and began to dribble sweat.
She recalled, “Thank goodness it was not a video conference. The perfect storm was created by combining a hot day and sudden stress. At 45 years old, I experienced my first hot flash.”
She quickly learned that she wasn’t the only one. Shannon, a 46-year-old friend, said she woke up with soggy sheets and damp hair stuck to her neck. Night sweats are the common name for nocturnal hot flashes.
The average age at which menopause begins is 51. This means that perimenopause usually starts in the 40s. This phase can last anywhere from four to ten years. Many women notice changes in their periods before stopping their menstrual cycles at 53.
The time between periods was shorter at first. Shannon recalls that she had a period approximately every three weeks. It grew. It was possible to go one, two, or three months without having a period or light bleeding [spotting]. “Once, I could go almost a whole year without any bleeding. This is the sign that doctors use when a woman has reached menopause. After that, I got my period again.”
The Integrative Approach to Hot Flashes
Many women began taking hormone replacement therapy pills that included estrogen and progesterone in the 1960s and continued to take them until the early 2000s. Research from the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 showed that hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.
Doctors will eventually be able to distinguish this treatment’s risks and benefits and decide which women can still safely use hormones to treat their symptoms. This treatment, now known as menopause hormonal therapy (MHT), is still available to many women. Many women are currently looking for alternatives to hormone therapy.
Hot flashes can be treated with non-drug methods. A portable fan can be a great way to keep your body cool and prevent hot flashes. You can even find cooling gel pillows and inserts for the pad to help you sleep better.
Hot Flashes: Integrative Health Options
The North American Menopause Society is a trusted, patient-friendly source for information about every transition phase, including perimenopause supplementation. The NAMS guide to natural remedies for hot flashes includes black cohosh and red clover, Dong Quai, Anglican, ginseng, evening primrose oil, and angelica.
- Some women may find black cohosh or red clover helpful, but the evidence is still inconclusive. They may also be a risk factor for liver problems and cancer.
- Side effects can be severe with evening primrose oil, kava, and Dong Quai. There is no evidence that they cause hot flashes.
- Ginseng may be beneficial for other issues related to perimenopause, such as mood, sleep, and mood, but it does not seem particularly helpful for hot flashes.
- Baylor University researchers reviewed natural remedies for menopause and found that aromatherapy with lavender oil and hypnosis can help relieve hot flashes. [iv] Researchers also discovered that black cohosh and reflexology, which stimulate specific points on the feet, may be helpful.
- Cognitive-behavioral Therapy, a short-term focused counseling that focuses on behavioral therapy, may not reduce hot flashes but make them less frequent.
Additional research is required for other perimenopause treatments and supplements.
Concerns about Non-FDA Approved Treatments
Unproven natural remedies are a concern:
- Sometimes, side effects can be severe.
- Undertreatment means the treatment isn’t strong enough to manage your symptoms as effectively as a proven treatment.
Mindfulness-based stress relief, a technique that helps you to relax and concentrate on the present, seems to be more effective with other symptoms of perimenopause, such as anxiety and an increased sense of well-being, than hot flashes. Yoga and this treatment can also increase energy levels. Other medicines require more research to determine if they work and are safe. These treatments “need to be further researched” include maca supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine.
Download our guide to learn more about centralizing strategies for hot flashes and other common symptoms during menopause or perimenopause.
Supplements for Perimenopause, both Over-the-Counter and Bioidentical
Many celebrities endorse “bioidentical hormone therapy”: treatments created for you by a pharmacy or made available to the general public. You can trust your healthcare provider to ensure that your selected treatment is safe, cost-effective, and unlikely to cause side effects.
You can also be prescribed a bioidentical hormone preparation such as estrogen cream for dryness or other symptoms.
How to manage weight gain during menopause
Perimenopause is a topic that has been searched for a lot. Why do we gain weight at this time? The Journal of Mid-Life Health published a study that listed contributing factors, including:
- As we age, our muscle mass decreases and we live a slower lifestyle.
- Stress and emotional eating
- A diet that is high in fat, sugar, salt, and processed foods but low in fiber.
- Poor sleep.
- Consuming excessive alcohol
Eat plenty of vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients. Consider whether you need vitamins or supplements.
To reduce hot flashes, avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This includes running, swimming, or cycling. Strength training is recommended twice or three times per week to maintain muscle mass. Not being thin is the goal. Being healthy includes preventing or delaying the loss of bone and maintaining a healthy heart, the ultimate goal.
Yoga, stretching, balance, and other exercises can help you maintain flexibility and general health.
Hot flashes can be avoided by maintaining a weight that your doctor or nurse agrees is appropriate for you. Manage your weight during perimenopause to prevent any other symptoms.
Integrative Health Self-Care Guide is a free resource to help maintain good health. It will make you feel happier, healthier, and more confident even if you lose weight.