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Menopause marks the end of menses (periods) in women. It is usually seen between the ages of 45 and 55 years. Once a woman reaches menopause, her ovaries stop releasing eggs and she can't conceive a baby naturally after that. There are certain symptoms that are seen in a woman in the period before (perimenopause), during and after menopause. Some of these symptoms are:

Around 80% of women going through menopause experience hot flashes. Hot flashes can be described as a sudden sensation of heat in the chest, face, and forehead. It can be accompanied by flushing, sweating, and chills. It occurs due to the dilation and contraction of the blood vessels. 

When the hot flashes occur during the night, they are called night sweats. Hot flashes are seen in episodes, which means they can stay either for 30 seconds or can last up to 5 minutes. Menopause-related hot flashes are supposed to fade away after one to two years.

Hot flashes can be managed with the help of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Women who do not wish to go for HRT can make some simple lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, alcohol, spicy food and caffeine and indulging in regular exercising to reduce the episodes of hot flashes.

Read more: How to quit smoking

  1. Symptoms of hot flashes
  2. Causes of hot flashes
  3. Treatment for hot flashes
  4. Management tips for hot flashes

The symptoms of hot flashes are: 

Hot flashes are mostly seen in women. The main reason behind hot flashes is menopause. In fact, hot flashes are one of the common symptoms seen immediately after the beginning of menopause.

The other causes of hot flashes can be:

Night sweats are pretty common in patients who are getting treated for any type of cancer

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the treatment given to women after menopause to fulfil the need for hormones like progesterone and estrogen, which are lost after menopause. This therapy helps in relieving hot flashes in women.

Women may get estrogen-only HRT or combination HRT in which they get both estrogen and progesterone hormones.

HRT can be given in various forms: 

  • Tablets: HRT tablet is taken once daily.
  • Gel: Estrogen is available in the form of gels which has to be rubbed on the skin to provide relief from the hot flashes.  
  • Skin patches: Patches are placed on the surface of the skin. These patches deliver hormones to the system slowly. The patch has to be replaced every few days.
  • Implants: A small pellet-like implant is placed under the skin of the tummy, thigh, or buttock. This implant releases hormones for several months and then is replaced with a new one. 

Some doctors may prescribe some non-hormonal medications like gabapentin, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and clonidine for the treatment of hot flashes.

Apart from HRT, there are other alternatives which can be used to manage hot flashes:

  • Plant sources of estrogen, such as isoflavones, can help in reducing hot flashes. Soybeans and yoghurt are good dietary sources of isoflavones. 
  • Avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption as they can trigger the hot flashes.
  • Different forms of exercises like yoga and martial art forms like Tai chi may help in reducing the episodes of night sweats. 
  • Wear loose clothes and sleep in a cool setting to prevent night sweats.

References

  1. Chen, Lu. et al. Bra wearing not associated with breast cancer risk: a population based case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014 Oct; 23(10): 2181–2185. PMID: 25192706
  2. Gibson, Taylor M. et al. Reductions in Kinematics from Brassieres with Varying Breast Support. Int J Exerc Sci. 2019; 12(1): 402–411. PMID: 30899340
  3. Mason, BR. et al. An Analysis of Movement and Discomfort of the Female Breast During Exercise and the Effects of Breast Support in Three Cases. J Sci Med Sport , 2 (2), 134-44. PMID: 10476977
  4. American Cancer Society [internet]. Atlanta (GA), USA; Disproven or Controversial Breast Cancer Risk Factors
  5. National Childbirth Trust [Internet]. London. United Kingdom; Maternity bras and nursing bras: what you need to know
  6. Hunter, Letha Y. and Torgan, Carol. The Bra Controversy: Are Sports Bras a Necessity?. Phys Sportsmed , 10 (11), 75-76. PMID: 29291314

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