We’ve watched Drew Barrymore grow up on screen, so it’s fitting that the actress and talkshow host would begin to experience “the change” on television. While interviewing Murder Mystery 2’s Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler for The Drew Barrymore Show, the 48-year-old star announced she suddenly felt warm and flushed.
“I’m so hot. I think I’m having one of my first perimenopause hot flashes,” she exclaimed. “For the first time, I think I’m having my first hot flash. Woah,” she said while fanning herself and removing her jacket.
“I feel so honored,” Aniston replied.
Hot flashes can be triggered by fluctuating hormones, stress and sugar imbalances explains Oakland, CA OBGYN Seema Shah, MD. The increase in heat Barrymore felt is caused by the hypothalamus. “There is a ‘switch’ in this region of the brain, like a thermostat, that cools or heats the body,” she says.
“All of our hormones work in conjunction with feedback mechanisms in the brain, and when estrogen levels fall it tells the hypothalamus that we are too hot,” adds nutritionist Jennifer Hanway. “Our bodies are always trying to achieve equilibrium, so in this case, the nervous system sends messages to upregulate heart rate and blood pressure. Our sweat glands also help to dissipate the heat.”
While Barrymore says this was her first hot flash, she’s right on track in terms of age. According to the National Health Institute, menopause symptoms appear in most women around age 50.
Hanway says the best way to handle an unexpected hot flash is to remain calm. “It’s easier said than done, but staying calm can help reduce both the duration and severity of them. When we are stressed we are adding fuel to the fire. Even simple, deep breaths can upregulate the nervous system and lower our output of cortisol and adrenaline.”