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Is It Hot in Here, or Is It Just Me(nopause)? 

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If you’re going through the menopausal transition, you’re probably familiar with hot flashes.  As many as 75% of North American women have hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause, the period of time when estrogen levels begin to decline until estrogen production completely stops—which is when menopause officially begins. While it’s a universal stage of life for every woman, menopause doesn’t look—or feel—the same for everyone, nor does it set in at the same time for every woman. It’s complex, and to make matter worse, there seems to be a heavy stigma associated with menopause. Here at WIN, we’re throwing out menopause taboos and diving into the heart of things.  

“Perimenopause and menopause should be treated as the rites of passage that they are. If not celebrated, then at least accepted and acknowledged and honored.” —Gillian Anderson 

So, what are hot flashes exactly? Despite their common occurrence for most women, it’s still a symptom that isn’t fully understood. Hot flashes are thought to result from changes in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates the body’s temperature. The hypothalamus senses that a woman is warm and goes to work to cool her down—dilating blood vessels (flushing), raising heart rate, making her sweat. This is often followed by a chill.    While some women find hot flashes and night sweats to be a minor inconvenience, others report them as extremely disruptive and even debilitating. Research shows that BIPOC women may start experiencing hot flashes earlier—and for longer—than white or Asian women. If hot flashes impact your ability to enjoy any part of your life, it’s important to know you aren’t alone, and there are a number of lifestyle changes to consider that can support symptom relief.   9 Lifestyle Tips for Managing Menopause—from the Experts  
  • Identify your triggers: Make note of what triggers your hot flashes and take steps to avoid what you can. Our experts advise avoiding high stress, spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine, as these are commonly reported as triggers by many women.  
  • Dress in layers: Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics in layers. That way, you can add or remove clothing as needed to adjust to your temperature.  
  • Keep it light in the bedroom: If you’ve been looking for an excuse to zhuzh up your bedroom, this is it: Lightweight, breathable bedding layers are key—so you can throw them back or pull them up as needed to combat hot flashes during the night. 
  • Reach for a cool accessory: If you feel a flash coming on at home, use a cool compress on the back of your neck or wrists for a quick cool down. When you’re on the go, stow a portable battery-operated fan or a handheld fan in your purse—you never know when it will come in handy. Some women even find baby wipes helpful. 
  • Stay hydrated: Hold yourself accountable to drinking H2O throughout the day. The goal for women is 11. 5 cups (2.7 liters) per day. 
  • Move your body: Engaging in regular physical exercise can help regulate hormones and manage stress. However, we don’t recommend high-intensity workouts close to bedtime. 
  • Quit smoking:  If you smoke, try to quit, both to reduce hot flashes and for your overall health. 
  • Find mind-body balance: If stress is a hot flash trigger for you, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can promote a “zen” feeling, and in turn, can help taper hot flashes. 
If you find that lifestyle changes aren’t enough to make hot flashes bearable, let’s talk! Our Nurse Care Advocates are experts in identifying menopause symptoms and can work with you to find a solution best suited for you and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Request an appointment with a WIN Nurse Care Advocate here 

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