Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Always portrayed in movies as lasting a mere second and getting slightly warmer than you were before but any women who has had them knows it’s not really like that. They can be the most disruptive thing getting in the way of a good nights sleep. Tossing, turning, throwing the duvet off and throwing your partner to the floor can often follow a hot flush.
Around 75% of women will have them during the menopause (NAMS).
The exact cause of hot flashes isn’t known but the biology behind hot flushes is that the hypothalamus which controls the body’s temperature in the brain causes the blood vessels at the skins surface to dilate. This can also cause the skin – especially in paler women to flush and have a reddish look.
During a hot flash it is common to also notice an increase in heart rate, maybe notice a little perspiration then usually followed by a cold chill. A bit of a rollercoaster few minutes.
There isn’t any reliable way if predicting when they will start, if you’ll have many of them or when they’ll stop and multiple studies have different time frames for how long they’ll be around for. Some say 2-4 years and some say upto 10.
Treatments are available, although they don’t cure them they can offer relief. They will naturally fade without treatment.
Stress reduction, hormone therapy and estrogen therapy are the most common ways.
A recent study showed that SSRI’s can be an effective treatment in women who don’t suffer depression, the only FDA approved one for use is Paroxetine 7.5mg.
Another thing to note is that smoking can increase the chances of having hot flashes so if you are a current smoker then it is something to keep in mind.