Maybe you’ve been in this situation: You’re standing with a group of friends, having a stimulating conversation and enjoying their company, when all of a sudden a wave of heat floods your body. You feel tingling from head to toe, and you break out in a sweat. Your concentration is broken and you can’t focus on the conversation at all. Or perhaps you’ve woken from a sound sleep drenched in sweat and desperate to kick off your blankets. If you’ve ever had a hot flash, these scenarios are probably all too familiar.
When I ask my patients which menopausal symptoms drive them the craziest and disrupt their lives the most, I get a wide range of answers: fuzzy thinking, weight gain, anxiety, disrupted sleep, decreased libido or painful sex, and mood swings all come to mind. But it seems that one symptom is nearly always at the top of the “most bothersome symptoms” list: hot flashes.
Studies show that 4 out of 5 women will experience hot flashes and night sweats before or after menopause, which means most of us will experience them at least once. For many of us, they are life disrupting for far longer than we’d like. If it seems like your temperature shifts are not getting better or showing any signs of going away, you’re not alone.
A 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that these vasomotor symptoms (or VMS) last, on average, for more than seven years. For some ethnicities, the average duration can be over ten years. That’s a long time to be kicking off blankets and peeling off clothing layers!
The good news is that you don’t have to suffer through a decade of misery. At the Women to Women clinic, we’ve been helping our patients manage their hormonal imbalance and regain control of their health – and their body temperatures – for decades – and we’ve been helping women on-line for more than 15 years! Let’s look a little more closely at hot flashes and night sweats and what we can do to feel better now – not ten years from now!
Treating Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
If you’ve had a hot flash or night sweats, you know how uncomfortable and awkward it can be. Thankfully, you have options beyond keeping the thermostat down, avoiding spicy foods, or opting for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has been linked to breast and ovarian cancers even when only taken for short durations.
When your body is experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance it means that your systems and hormones are out of alignment: your symptoms are a message from your body asking you to pay attention.
During our transition before and after menopause, our hormones are shifting and the ratio of estrogen to progesterone and testosterone is constantly changing. When these ratios get out of balance, we experience symptoms such as hot flashes and many other well-known menopausal complaints. It IS possible to bring these hormones back into a healthy balance and our Menopause Program has proven very effective in helping the body do so and alleviating symptoms during this transition.
But while nutritional supplementation and support is a critical component, it’s not as simple as just popping a pill and making it all go away; to receive optimal relief and restore health so that you can feel like yourself again, you’re going to need to make some simple lifestyle and diet changes as well.
That’s because our sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are secondary hormones and our primary hormones of insulin, adrenalin and cortisol take precedence when it comes to getting the support and nutrition your body needs to perform optimally. If these hormones are out of balance, your body will focus on restoring harmony there first and your best efforts to address your menopausal symptoms may not yield the results you are seeking.
For example, insulin controls your blood sugar levels so if your diet is full of sugar, starch and carbohydrates, your menopausal complaints may well be more severe and will likely stay around longer. Similarly, if you live a very stressful chaotic life and you don’t take time for relaxation, meditation and self-care, you may experience adrenal fatigue because your adrenalin and cortisol will be out of balance. If there is an imbalance in any of the primary hormones, it will slow down symptom relief.
But the good news is that by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes, you can begin to feel much better and alleviate not just hot flashes, but weight gain, mood changes and all of your other menopausal symptoms as well.
The first step is to minimize processed foods and sugar and instead opt for fresh whole foods: eating grass-fed meats, wild caught salmon and omega-3 rich fish, and organic produce whenever you can will go a long way to restoring balance and helping you feel better. It’s important to watch out for hidden sugars such as high fructose corn syrup that wreak havoc on your insulin levels and to avoid vegetable oils and other omega 6 processed oils and the boxed foods that contain them.
You can learn more about sugar in our article here.
In that 2015 JAMA study, researchers also found that lifestyle concerns and psychosocial factors have an impact on how disruptive hormonal imbalance symptoms may be. In other words, the scientists are saying that if you have stress or distress in other areas of your life, it is more likely to show up in the form of physical symptoms than if you don’t. We’ve seen this first-hand at our clinic for years.
Women in the study who experienced symptoms for longer periods of time included those who were under financial strain, under greater perceived stress, experiencing more depression or anxiety, seemed to be more sensitive to their symptoms, and those who experienced symptoms at younger ages. So it’s important to reduce stress from your life by making changes where you can and by implementing stress relief practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, journaling, deep breathing, eating well and getting a good night’s sleep.
Menopausal Symptom Relief Is Possible
One of the major conclusions of the JAMA study was that most physicians are unaware of the severity and the duration of many menopausal symptoms including VMS. If your practitioner thinks these symptoms will go away on their own, or that living with them for a few months (or years!) is ok, find a practitioner that will work with you to improve your diet and lifestyle and give your body the support it is crying out for. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance mean your body is out of alignment and needs to be re-balanced. And with the study results indicating that this imbalance can last as long as a decade, taking a wait and see attitude is not the best solution for your health, or your comfort.
Marcelle Pick has been successfully treating symptoms of hormonal imbalance including hot flashes and night sweats for three decades. We have found that in addition to changing your diet, basic nutritional support in the form or a pharmaceutical grade multivitamin and omega 3 fatty acid supplement fill in the nutritional gaps that can result in your body’s sensitivity to symptoms such as VMS.
In today’s world, with our busy lives and our compromised food supply, it is nearly impossible to get all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and co-factors your body needs for optimal function in a form that your body can absorb. If you are experiencing more severe, more frequent, or more numerous physical or emotional symptoms, our proprietary blend of natural herbs can provide the relief you are seeking and help to restore your hormonal balance so they don’t come back. While diet and lifestyle changes go along way, when you add in nutritional supplementation support, it’s possible to go symptom-free and finally feel like yourself again.
Let today be the last day you have a hot flash – or the last night you wake up hot and drenched! Our Menopause Program has helped thousands of women just like you.