Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes of Menopause
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Introduction to menopause and hot flashes
- What are hot flashes?
- How are hot flashed usually treated?
- Which alternative prescription medications are effective in treating hot flash symptoms of menopause?
- Why are some doctors reluctant to recommend nonprescription therapies for menopause symptoms?
- What alternative treatments for menopause have been scientifically studied?
- Alternatives for Treating Hot Flashes At A Glance
- Patient Comments: Alternative Treatments For Hot Flashes - Experience
- Patient Comments: Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Hot Flashes of Menopause - Alternative Treatments
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
Introduction to menopause and hot flashes
Women frequently ask what symptoms they can anticipate during menopause. In reality, each woman experiences menopause differently. While one woman is certain that insomnia is a symptom of menopause for her, another is certain that joint aches are her primary symptom of menopause. Doctors are not even able to tell women what to expect because research into the symptoms of menopause has not yet established just how menopause causes many of its symptoms. For example, medical science cannot explain how the declining hormone levels of menopause could cause joint aches.
Menopause is not a disease but a natural transition, yet many of the symptoms of menopause also may be caused by diseases. We are not always certain which symptoms are due to menopause, and women differ in their symptoms. How, then, do we decide when women undergoing menopause need treatment in the first place? The same pattern of hot flashes in two different women can have a very different psychological impact. For one woman, they can disturb her daily functioning greatly, but for another, they may hardly be bothersome.
What are hot flashes?
Hot flashes are experienced by many women, but not all women undergoing menopause experience hot flashes. A hot flash is a feeling of warmth that spreads over the body, but is often most strongly felt in the head and neck regions. Hot flashes may be accompanied by perspiration or flushing. Hot flashes usually last from 30 seconds to several minutes. Although the exact cause of hot flashes is not fully understood, hot flashes are thought to be due to a combination of hormonal and biochemical fluctuations brought on by declining estrogen levels.
Hot flashes occur in up to 40% of regularly menstruating women in their forties, so they often begin before the menstrual irregularities characteristic of menopause even begin. About 80% of women will be finished having hot flashes after five years. Sometimes (in about 10% of women), hot flashes can last as long as 10 years.
Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by night sweats (episodes of drenching sweats at nighttime). This may lead to awakening and difficulty falling asleep again, resulting in unrefreshing sleep and daytime tiredness.
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