Many women will suffer from hot flashes whether her menopause was surgically induced, such as after a hysterectomy, or if menopause happens as a natural process.
Research has found that women who have had a partial hysterectomy, when the ovaries were left intact, will experience menopause earlier than if they had not had a hysterectomy. Those who have their ovaries removed during surgery will experience a menopause immediately.
Women who have had a hysterectomy will also more often experience hot flashes immediately after surgery but it will not necessarily indicate that they are in menopause. Taking out the uterus from the body will cause significant changes to take place that often trigger hot flashes, one of the post hysterectomy side effects.
Cause of Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a sensation of intense heat, usually in the upper part of the body. Most women will also experience a rapid heartbeat, flushing of the chest and sometimes heavy sweating that can last between 30 seconds to five minutes.
These hot flashes can occur any time of the day or night. Some women are awakened during the night and find that their bed sheets are completely saturated with sweat, while other women are unable to get through a business meaning without fanning themselves and turning red.
No one knows exactly what causes these hot flushes but researchers theorize that the purpose is probably to increase the heat in the regulatory area of the brain and that this upset has occurred because of the changes in hormonal balance in the body.
One current theory is that the lack of estrogen is responsible for the malfunction of the heat regulatory center that causes the blood vessels in the skin to dilate so heat can be released.
Home Remedies for Hot Flashes
Many women can treat their hot flashes using natural methods.
This means that they do not have to resort to pharmaceutical intervention in order to adjust their system enough to decrease the number of hot flashes they are experiencing.
Other triggers can also increase the number and intensity of hot flashes that a woman experiences. By decreasing or avoiding these triggers she can also decrease the intensity and quantity of hot flashes.
Some of these triggers include hot spicy food, hot showers, hot drinks, hot rooms, hot food, hot weather, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, anger, stress and diet pills. If you notice, the majority of these common triggers are factors that affect the heat in the body.
Many women find relief when wearing clothing that is made of natural fibers and “breathe” allowing good air exchange.
Although counterintuitive, increasing your activity level will actually decrease the amount and intensity of hot flashes. This means that although exercise will increase your body temperature, it somehow decreases the frequency of hot flashes that women experience by almost half.
Women who have not stopped smoking should stop smoking, avoid alcohol and completely eliminate caffeine, sugar and spicy foods from their diet.
These lifestyle choices help to bring the body back into balance and decrease the number of hot flashes you experience. Try carrying a portable hand fan in your purse to cool down when the hot flash occur and, wherever and whenever possible, turn down the thermostat in the room you are in.
Women who drink lots of cold water and eat a diet balanced with proteins, fruits, vegetables and fiber also find that they experience hot flashes in lower numbers and less intensity.
Use a fan in your bedroom at night to keep the airflow going as well as bed sheets and blankets that allow air exchange.
Although hormone replacement therapy used to be a popular option, most women are now opting out of this form of supplementation to decrease menopausal symptoms.
This is due to the significant link that researchers have made between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer, uterine cancers, stroke and heart attack. And, although it may seem that increasing your estrogen levels through supplementation would help decrease your hot flashes it does not appear to be the case.
Another way to decrease the number of hot flashes you experience is by including soy products in your diet.
It appears that the soy which comes from food, and not supplementation, works better. Soy contains a natural plant estrogen and is thought to decrease hot flashes when combined with 400 to 800 international units of vitamin E.
An additional benefit of vitamin E is that it helps to strengthen the immune system and protect the heart.
Another new product on the market is Remifemin, a proprietary blend of black cohosh, grown specifically for the manufacturing company. This is an herbal remedy which has long been used to help treat hot flashes.
If the particular hot flashes a woman is experiencing is more severe or not alleviated by any of the other over-the-counter preparations or natural remedies physicians may decide to prescribe gabapentin.
This is a drug that normally is used in neurological conditions. Researchers who published their findings in 2000 in the issue of Neurology found that women who took gabapentin also had an 87% reduction in hot flashes.
The prescription of gabapentin for this reason would be considered “off label” because it is not currently approved by the food and drug administration for this particular use. Although the study was small it was promising and requires more research to confirm the results.
For More Information:
University of Maryland Medical Center: Endometriosis
Endocrine Related Cancer: Hormone Therapy after Endometrial Cancer
MayoClinic.com: Vaginal Hysterectomy
American Family Physician: Non-Hormonal Therapies for Hot Flashes in Menopause