What is a hot flash?
Indeed, a hot flash is a hot flash. Once you’ve experienced one, you KNOW what it feels like 🙂
Depending on the research, 50-85% of women experience hot flashes in peri-, meno- and postmenopause and women can have drastically different experiences going through menopause.
Why do we get hot flashes?
Hormone balance in menopause is highly dependent on effective stress management (mindset to prioritize one’s care and ease are key!). Regular and sound sleep, self-care, having support…all of these aspects become more important, not less. With ongoing stress, the hormone balance shift from the adrenals, providing insufficient progesterone to keep estrogen receptors primed. Women can indeed have estrogen dominance due to rock-bottom progesterone (and perhaps overload with xenoestrogens) but still have hot flashes due to dramatic fluctuations in estrogenic effects.
What triggers hot flashes:
First of all, let’s bust a myth that hot flashes mean someone necessarily has overall low estrogen levels. Not true! Research does not generally show a correlation between circulating estrogen levels and the incidence (or severity) of hot flashes.
A hot flash is triggered by the hypothalamus in the brain and occurs to release heat that has built up in the body in response to a surge of norepinephrine and/or epinephrine (catecholamines or “stress hormones” – what we typically call “adrenaline”) usually sudden drops in estrogen can cause an alarming response in the brain. A woman can indeed be estrogen dominant (and even have relatively high levels of estrogen) and still wrestle with hot flashes. It is a sudden drop in estrogen (meaning a higher level of variation) that can trigger the cascade that causes a hot flash.
Keep in mind that beverages like coffee and alcohol in the case of hot flashes, can both be exacerbating factors, and several more factors are listed below:
- Excess intake of vitamin D ( for some women a high dose of Vitamin D (which is a hormone) will drop down estrogen and give you hot flashes if in perimenopause or menopause.
- Blood sugar fluctuations
For women of all ages who wake up in the middle of the night with a hot flash (and only experience hot flashes at night), it is usually cortisol that is the culprit. Taking calming adaptogenic herbs before bedtime e.g. holy basil and ashwagandha can help to calm the action of adrenaline.
Conventional medicine practice is diagnosing hot flashes issues strictly thinking there must be low estrogen level due to being menopausal without any testing and most often the standard solution is HRT - hormone replacement therapy. However high cortisol, low cortisol, low progesterone, or low serotonin can all be drivers for hot flashes. Stress is a huge mediator, and women can therefore be estrogen dominant and still struggle with these symptoms. The last thing they need is more estrogen, and this is why their hot flashes don't go away, and they end up with other symptoms, e.g. breast tenderness and anxiety.
Clinical study shows that no hot flash remedy works for everyone. That is why I do individual tailored programs to help each one of my clients with their unique case and symptoms.
Until next time