Sick of all the overheating and sweating of hot flashes? Which treatment is best: hormones, antidepressants or natural methods?
When is the worst place to have a hot flash? During a business meeting? While in the dentist’s chair? While on a plane? How about while exercising? They can also occur during sleep.
“There are many ways to help a woman deal with hot flashes related to menopause,” says Karen Patrusky, a board certified OBGYN and F.A.C.O.G. in private practice for 20+ years.
“The good news is that after a year into menopause the number of women who struggle with this symptom reduces drastically, and those who still experience them do so less often.
“HRT is the most effective way to manage a hot flash. This is because the symptoms are directly related to a drop in natural estrogen, and by reintroducing estrogen back into the body the symptoms ease.
“Estrogen is administered with progesterone when a woman still has her uterus, in those who have not undergone a hysterectomy for any reason, in order to prevent her from getting uterine cancer from the unopposed estrogen.
“HRT however does not come without risk in some women, and so this has to be a well thought out decision.
“Women who choose HRT to treat these symptoms should have no contraindications to its use: no unexplained vaginal bleeding, no prior history or breast cancer, no significant family history of breast cancer and no risk factors for developing a blood clot.
“Also, the ideal time to start HRT in a women who is a candidate and desirous should start within the first five years of her menopause and then try to wean off after five years of use.”
“Antidepressants can also be a highly effective, off label, means to treat hot flashes associated with menopause,” says Dr. Patrusky.
The effectiveness of an antidepressant such as Effexor or Cymbalta has nothing to do with mood elevation.
The drug has multiple uses, though it’s marketed as a treatment for depression.
It’s certainly not uncommon for Effexor or Cymbalta to be used for management of hot flashes.
“This can be especially useful in those women struggling and suffering from these symptoms and cannot or prefer to avoid HRT,” says Dr. Patrusky.
“Lifestyle modification, on its own or in combination with HRT or antidepressants, can be enormously helpful in managing and reducing the discomfort associated with hot flushes.”
“Dressing in layers of breathable fabrics so that you can remove clothing when feeling warm” is one option, says Dr. Patrusky.
“This should be carried through with nighttime rituals as well; light nightwear and layers of covers so they can be peeled on and off.
“Certain foods can trigger the hot flash: caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods for example.
“Stress is a huge culprit. Staying relaxed by using meditation, breathing techniques and exercise as a stress relief can also serve to benefit her.
“Some foods contain substances that can ease the sensation of hot flashes,” such as flaxseed, chickpeas, lentils, whole grains, beans, fruits, herbal teas, red clover and raw vegetables.
Dr. Patrusky is the developer of Voila Intimate Mood Oil, a 100% organic, non-hormonal lubricant made from coconut oil infused with the purest natural herbal oils. All five formulas are vegan, cruelty-free and U.S. produced.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.