Hot flushes: how to cope

By Siski Green, Monday 4 August 2014

Hot flushes are common during menopause. Learn more about how to cope with them with our guide to remedies and treatments.
Hot flushHerbal supplements, medical drugs, yoga - what works for hot flushes?
Going through menopause you may never experience hot flushes, but many women do. It’s a feeling of intense warmth that spreads over your body. It can also include sweating and a red flush. While that may not sound so terrible it can be disorienting, as well as cause a great deal of discomfort – and, as it can occur at night, it can disrupt sleep, further reducing quality of life.

Cool down with gadgets. What do you do when there’s a heatwave? Put those same tools to use when you experience hot flushes. So dig out the electric fan, or handheld version, wear loose fitting clothing and if necessary, keep a small cool pack with you containing a cold gel pack. You can also buy Magicool or other similar spray products that help cool you down when you need.

Breathe to reduce hot flushes. One very small study (only 33 women) published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that controlled breathing for 15 minutes twice a day helped reduce hot flushes by half, compared to biofeedback treatment (in simple terms, this is where your brain activity is monitored, with the aim of training your brain to calm down). Controlled breathing involves inhaling for a count of five, then exhaling for a count of five, repeating this over the 15-minute period.

Use ice to cool hot flushes. Cooling yourself fully just as you feel a hot flush coming on can sometimes be enough to stop it in its tracks. With this in mind, one manufacturer has come up with the Menopod. This is a small device about the size of a computer mouse that activates copper pads which then can be used to cool your skin. You hold it against your neck when you feel a hot flush coming on and so, in theory, the hot flush will dissipate before it has even started properly. Of course, there are other ways you can do the same if you’re at home – ice, a cool pack, a bag of peas, all will help.

How yoga helps. Like progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing up each group of muscles, then relaxing them, yoga and meditation have both been found to help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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  • Joyce

    Posted: Monday 30 March 2015

    Hi ladies... all I want to say is that if MEN suffered from severe flushes day and night there would have been a cure developed within months! The male-dominated medical attitude (and NHS) towards the "natural process" of peri/menopause greatly angers me. I am going thru Hell with my hourly severe flushes and sweats; it's killing me - and all we have is HRT that is like swapping one devil for another!

  • sherry blundell

    Posted: Sunday 29 March 2015

    I am 69 I was on hrt worked well but after 15 years felt I should come off. I had no problems on it.I am now rubbing in progesterone cream I feel it is helping gradualy. Sleeping better. Still have hot flushes but not so many and feel more likely to do more work.Still abit achy at times but hey,I am feeling better. bowing on.

  • Judith Pearson

    Posted: Sunday 22 March 2015

    Have been having hot sweats for the last 9yrs have tried hrt,anti depressants,clonodin I also take 600mg of gabapentin every day but still nothing works.i am trying sage tablets at present but just started these will see if they do anything

  • Ann

    Posted: Wednesday 11 March 2015

    I am 62 and have tried to stop taking HRT loads of times. Every time I stop the hot flushes return with a vengeance. I've tried herbal remedies and the only effective treatment is HRT.
    I keep hoping I would grow out of it! But there seems no end to the misery.
    So the dilemma, carry on with HRT and possible side effects, basically take the risk?

  • Melinda

    Posted: Monday 02 March 2015

    Hi, I believe I am starting to go through my change. I am 49 and have been having really heavy periods over the last year and last month I missed one totally and have come on again really heavy this month. I am taking slow release tramadol for some ongoing pain I have from a knee opp. I know tramadol can cause hot sweats but can they also trigger them as I am having them non stop, if I get to warm or have a cup or tea I start to sweat. I cant figger out weather to dress for summer or winter

  • Claire

    Posted: Wednesday 25 February 2015

    Had hysterectomy 14yrs ago had hot flashes ever since.doctors put me on her but they don't work has anyone any ideas as I struggle at work as I hardly sleep

  • julie

    Posted: Thursday 19 February 2015

    Hi I have been going thru major hot flushes worse at night time apparently when you not being active night time is worse I have noticed that I am gettin a pattern every three hours thru a 24 hour period gunna go insane if that goes on for years HELP

  • Gwen

    Posted: Tuesday 17 February 2015

    I Started taking hot flushes almost a year ago,I can be sitting doing nothing or in bed with just a sheet in a cool room, always starts on the back of my neck then up through my hair until sweat can be dripping off my eye lashes ,it's embarrassing and I just want to stand in a cold shower, I heard folic acid can help so I tryed it for a few weeks and yes I do believe it cut them down by more than half , but as soon as I stopped taking it they returned,so started them again today .works for me .

  • Christine

    Posted: Wednesday 21 January 2015

    I was put on hrt at 46. I have genetic haemochromatosis and I am at more risk of thrombosis because of my high red blood cell count so my gp told me to stop hrt. The sweats were intolerable until I tried Clonidine which had reduced the intensity. But the feeling before I get a flush is horrible. It feels like the chest is getting squashed with anxiety..so that I can't breathe properly. It causes my partner to have disturbed sleep because I keep having to lift his arm off me to cool down!!

  • Amelia

    Posted: Monday 27 October 2014

    began menopause approx 3 years ago age 50, awful hotflushes till periods returned, what a relief! now hot flushes are back in the absence of them. I thought it would be great to not have periods every month, but actually having hot flushes etc every day is far worse (apart from pre pregnancy periods that is, which were painful)

  • vicky taylor

    Posted: Sunday 26 October 2014

    Hi I'm 32 and a recent blood test shown I am in fact pre menopausal. I have horrendous hot flushes and sweats. Sometimes they are that bad I look like I have jus washed my hair. I tried sage tablets to no joy I'm currently using black cohoh and evening primrose. I have been using for 10 days now and have noticed a slight Improvement. I'm going to give them 28 days and see how things are. So maybe they are worth a try.

  • Pauline Elliott

    Posted: Thursday 16 October 2014

    Ladies, please try Ladycare magnet! Read the writeups, It is amazing apparently! I am giving it a go and will update with results, got it to relieve my hot flushes.

  • Marisa

    Posted: Thursday 16 October 2014

    Hi all ! I am 51 and started menopause a year ago , the stories I have been reading all sound excactly what I have been going thru ! A month ago I started taking Metagenics Oestrocalm to help with the hot Flushes and night sweats and they worked within a couple of days , I started taking 3 capsules in the morning and 3 at night along with other vitamins to help support me thru this painful time called MENOPAUSE ! Hope this helps one of you lovely ladies

  • CHRISTINE GREYGOOSE

    Posted: Wednesday 15 October 2014

    I am 69 and have suffered hot flushes since coming off hrt 5years ogo. Untill you experience this you dont realise how this effects your whole life. Docters seem to be unconcerned about how severe this is to some people

  • Claire Earley

    Posted: Tuesday 14 October 2014

    Hiya, I am 50 & have been having flushes for about 3-4 years, I had a hysterectomy at 39 still have my ovaries, I take Gabapentin along with a load of other meds for pain so can confirm that for me at least gab does NOT help with flushes I was on HRT for about 18 months which did lesson them a bit but the risks did not seem worth it so have now been off for 3 weeks & OMG the flushes are back.I feel cold when not flushing so clothes are on & off a lot.But I'm still alive so gotta keep positive.

  • coral

    Posted: Wednesday 01 October 2014

    I've been having hot flushes sometimes I'm having 5 or 6 a day! I get out the shower I break into a sweat it's mainly my face I'm 46year I so conscious of this I don't want to out the door

  • Virginia Aylott

    Posted: Wednesday 17 September 2014

    I am 77 and for the past 2-3 years keep having awful hot flushes I did not have many when going thru my change. Have tried Bach and Sage but I just seem to get worse it is so embarassing have asked Dr. and he laughed and said you are going thru your menapause. HAHA HELP

  • fiona

    Posted: Tuesday 02 September 2014

    I have been going through the menopause for the last 5 years I started early at the age of 35, I'm on hrt which does help but a few days before my period is due I suffer terrible flushes at night and I am left with a bad headache and low mood and heavy bleeding.

  • Susie Brooker

    Posted: Monday 01 September 2014

    I started flushing aged 38 and am now 60.In the past I found sage helpful but it didn't stop all flushes. Eventually I tried hrt but grew huge fibroids. Doc removed uterus, ovaries and cervix (sister had invasive cancer) I took unopposed oestrogen for quite a while but raised bp and weight gain made my gp stop it. It's not the flushes, it's the awful feeling that precedes it. An awful heart sinking. Flush follows in 2-5 mins. Think I might try sage again. Does anyone else get awful feelng?

  • Christine bolingbroke

    Posted: Tuesday 12 August 2014

    Re the hot flashes article and taking Gabapentin. I take 900mg of Gabapentin a day for medical reasons and I have horrendous hot flashes so I'm afraid the theory of it helping reduce the hot flashes is out the window !!

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