Probably the most inconvenient and common symptom of menopause for many women. The classic flush shows up with a flooding feeling of intense warmth over the face, neck and chest, reddening the face like an embarrassed teenager and causing one to sweat one minute and feel chilled the next.
However flushes can be as individual as women are, and if you are having times where you feel hotter than you usually would or if your thermostat seems to be set to up these days, then this is probably also a variant of menopausal flushing.
During a hot flush, some women will also experience a rapid heartbeat, sudden sweating or feelings of anxiety. When the hot flush happens at night, a woman can also experience profuse sweating and sleep disturbance.
More than 50% of peri-menopausal women experience hot flushes. These can range from mild to being incredibly disruptive and impact quality of life. And for some women, menopausal hot flushes can be part of their life for years. Not much fun.
So, let’s go back a step and define menopause.
Menopause is the natural decrease in a woman’s reproductive hormone where periods become irregular and eventually stop. The actual “diagnosis” of menopause is when there have been no periods for over 12 months, but most women with have menopause symptoms for a number of years before and after this time.
The average age for a woman to first notice menopausal symptoms is in the mid to late 40s, but can start earlier or later than this. Menopausal symptoms last for most women around an average of 7 years, regardless of when their periods finish up.
“I am passionate about helping women understand that together, we can work to help lessen the impact of menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes.”Dr Ruth Spencer
Not everyone seeks treatment for hot flushes. Some women simply put up with them because perhaps it is their only symptom of menopause, and they don’t find them too disruptive. Wearing thin natural fibre layers, reducing alcohol and increasing exercise can all help to some degree to reduce the impact of flushes.
However, if flushes are compromising your quality of life, or they are part of a wider spectrum of menopausal symptoms then it makes sense to seek treatment.
Treatment needs an individualised strategy, your history and current health will be assessed to help inform the next steps. Because menopause is complex, I like to spend about 50 minutes with each patient to work out a treatment plan and then review at 3 and 6 months to see if symptoms, such as hot flushes, are well controlled and iron out any issues that may have cropped up.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding your menopause symptoms or about the different options to help you to manage your menopausal symptoms, you can make an appointment at Ballarat Women’s Clinic. No referral is needed to see GPs.
Written by Women’s Health GP Dr Ruth Spencer
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