3 min read
Brandi Koskie | March 02 , 2019
Why they really happen and what to do about them.
After a near-lifetime of periods, the idea of menopause can seem like a hard-earned reward for all that being a woman has put us through. But then when it really comes, it's like one more female joyride we can’t get off of: Hot flashes are real and, for a lot of us, aren’t going away anytime soon.
Anyone who’s had one knows hot flashes are the strongest physical symptom of menopause, when menstruation comes to a blessed end but estrogen sources start depleting. Starting at the point of perimenopause, these sudden surges of heat rise from your core, with no invitation or warning. They feel all-consuming and inescapable, and more than half of all women experience them.
Hot flashes generally target the chest, neck, and face, leaving the skin flush and the body damp with sweat. So if all of this is happening to you, it’s totally normal. (It’s also normal to feel like it’s too hot to breathe, function, or focus.)
We're Not The Only Ones Flashing
Guess what –men can get hot flashes, too. Especially as a side-effect of androgen deprivation therapy during treatment for prostate cancer. But according to Dr. Jonathon Daniels of Rocky Mountain Women’s Health, hot flashes outside of menopause can also be caused by:
So, Uh, How Long Will This Go On For?
Menopausal hot flash episodes can last 30 seconds or as long as 10 minutes, with the average being 3-5 minutes. In one study, 87 percent of women had daily hot flashes, while one-third experienced a brutal 10 or more each day.
The start date of a woman’s hot flashes has a direct relationship with how many years she’ll experience them. Basically, the earlier they start, the longer they’ll last. The median was 4.5 years after the final menstruation, according to SWAN, an extensive study on the duration and persistence of hot flashes. Here's what else they found:
As for non-medical treatment, there are things you can do on your own to reduce the effects, duration, and occurrence of hot flashes:
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