According to the North American Menopause Society, more than 75 percent of women experience hot flashes during menopause which may last for years. Here, experts share the best ways to keep your cool when you’re burning up.
Fluctuating hormones, stress and sugar imbalances are triggers that increase the heat we feel from the inside out, for which we have our hypothalamus to thank. “There is a ‘switch’ in this region of the brain, like a thermostat, that results in either the cooling or heating of the body,” explains Oakland, CA OBGYN Seema Shah, MD.
“Scientists hypothesize that perimenopausal and menopausal women have an increased sensitivity to that switch resulting in the rise in temperature,” adds Dr. Shah. “The decrease in circulating estrogen seems to result in a cascade of changes in the hormones and neurotransmitters, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, that cause that ‘burning up’ sensation followed by the normal physiological response to heat: sweating.” Absorb moisture and stay dry with Nakery Beauty Magic Under Boob Wand ($22), which contains corn starch and cooling aloe vera.
Stress management and keeping added sugar intake and refined carbs low are two “home remedies” that experts say truly work. “Focus on a low-carb diet with plenty of protein, healthy fats, low-sugar fruits and brightly colored vegetables, as this helps balance blood sugar and insulin levels and reduce inflammation,” shares nutritionist Jennifer Hanway. “Foods high in isoflavones like organic soy, lentils and beans have also shown to help with hot flashes.” While diet and lifestyle changes make a huge impact, to boost results, add a supplement like HUM Nutrition Fan Club ($40), which targets 11 menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and mood swings.
Statistically, African American women report more frequent hot flashes compared to Caucasian women, and Japanese and Chinese women report even less. But, those who do have them, regardless of ethnicity, end up experiencing them for years. “Some studies have reported the average duration of hot flashes can last approximately five years after the onset of menopause, but there are many women who continue to report having them for a full decade after,” shares Anaheim, CA OBGYN Manuela Maria Vazquez, MD. For an instant refresher, a topical cooler like Kindra Cool Down Mist ($32) can provide relief for up to two hours.
When temps rise, taking a breather proves to be a practice that actually works. “Evidence shows that a mindfulness practice can really help decrease the frequency and duration of stress-related hot flashes, and can be done daily at a certain time, or in anticipation of a stressful activity,” adds Dr. Shah. “Mindfulness can include a short meditation, affirmations, visualizations, breathing exercises, or a short ritual that encompasses some of these.” Take in a few deep breaths while using Womaness Let’s Neck Serum ($25), a formula designed for thinning skin on the neck and décolleté with a cooling roller applicator that gives the perfect minute massage.
Dr. Vazquez says the fastest way to quell the fire is by regulating your temperature. “For mild hot flashes, simple behavioral modifications can help,” she advises. “Lower room temperatures, use fans, wear layers of clothing that can be removed easily, and avoid triggers like spicy foods or stressful situations.” Keep Hot Girls Pearls ($50) bracelets or reusable JoyLux coldHER 58 Pads ($23) in your freezer for easy ways to draw heat away from your body.
Hanway says “serenity now” can help reduce the duration and severity of the flash. “When we’re stressed, our body upregulates our heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, so we are literally adding fuel to the fire. Even some simple, deep breaths can upregulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can lower our output of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.” Take a soothing self-care moment with SweetSpot Labs Vanilla Blossom Soothing Wipes ($10), which can be used on your underarms, behind your knees and wherever else you need quick relief.
For more severe flashes and constant night sweats, Dr. Vazquez adds that hormone replacement therapy is a good pharmacological option for the right candidates. “Plant-based therapies like phytoestrogens and herbal remedies are commonly used by post-menopausal women, but their efficacy has not yet been wellestablished.” Severe night sweats can cause loss of sleep; however, newer high-tech nighttime options like the Lusomé Nathalie Tank ($34) made with Xirotex moisture-managing fabric, and the Ooler Sleep System ($799) featuring an app-controlled Cool Mesh pad, can provide nightly comfort and relief.
Increasing your overall health and wellness is always a good idea, and there are a few things you can do easily. “Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, lack of sleep and smoking are all strongly associated with an uptick in hot flashes,” explains Dr. Shah. Limiting these habits and getting enough sleep can help mitigate menopausal symptoms.
“Lower room temperatures, use fans, wear layers of clothing that can be removed easily, and avoid triggers like spicy foods or stressful situations.”