Menopause Mythbusters: The 7 Biggest Myths About Hot Flashes
Picture this: you’re in the middle of a work meeting when suddenly your heart starts pounding, your skin is on fire, and you break out in a full body sweat. You glance around nervously to see if your co-workers have noticed, your mind racing with possible explanations.
Did I mention that I ran to work today?
Oh, that’s not sweat, that’s a dewy glow from my new foundation makeup.
Is it hot in here, or was that Powerpoint presentation on fire?
Hot flashes can strike any time, anywhere, and without mercy. They’re super common (75% of women in menopause experience hot flashes), but that makes them no less embarrassing.
Even worse, the internet is full of misleading information when it comes to hot flashes and their treatment. Read more as we get to the bottom of some of the biggest myths and questions about hot flashes and menopause.
1. Are hot flashes the beginning of menopause?
Yes. Hot flashes are most common during perimenopause, the menopause transition that happens several years before menopause begins when estrogen levels start to drop. For most women, perimenopause begins in their 40s, but some women experience it earlier in their 30s.
Hot flashes are a common symptom of perimenopause, along with vaginal dryness and sleeplessness. This transitional period is different for every woman. On average, it lasts about four years, but some women only experience it for a few months.
2. Do hot flashes only happen during menopause?
No. Hot flashes can happen at other times, for a plethora of other reasons. For one, any medical issue related to your hormones or endocrine system could result in hot flashes. Anxiety, allergies, and even some medications could have side effects that include hot flashes. Your doctor can help you rule out other causes if you aren’t going through menopause.
3. Is black cohosh effective for treating hot flashes?
We hate to break it to you, but this one is of the biggest menopause myths of them all. The answer is no; there is no proof that black cohosh works for treating hot flashes, or any other menopause symptoms for that matter. Black cohosh is cleverly marketed to menopausal women, so it’s become known as a natural cure for menopause symptoms. Here are the facts:
One study revealed that black cohosh was no more effective than a placebo for relieving women of their symptoms. There is no concrete evidence that it has any effect on women experiencing hot flashes.
Another issue is that black cohosh isn’t regulated by the FDA, so there’s no way of knowing how much black cohosh is actually in any given bottle – or if it contains any at all.
Finally, black cohosh could have dangerous side effects, including liver damage. So the next time you pass through the herbal supplements aisle, take a hard pass on the black cohosh.
4. Can I use apple cider vinegar for hot flashes?
If you were to believe everything the internet has told us about apple cider vinegar lately, you’d be convinced that it will give you superhuman powers and create world peace. While apple cider vinegar might not be a magical cure-all, it does have some legitimate health benefits. Some say it improves insulin sensitivity and can help reduce blood sugar. Others say that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss by making you feel fuller longer.
5. Are hot flashes and night sweats the same?
The only difference between hot flashes and night sweats is that night sweats happen – you guessed it – at night, while you’re sleeping. But night sweats present their own set of problems: in addition to waking up drenched in sweat, night sweats can severely disrupt your sleeping patterns if you get them often enough. Like hot flashes, they can vary in severity and frequency.
There are some steps you can take alleviate night sweats like keeping a low temperature and good air circulation in your bedroom, as well as investing in some good moisture-wicking pajamas. However, if your night sweats are leading to sleep deprivation, see your doctor to discuss other treatment.
6. Are hot flashes the only symptom of menopause?
Hot flashes are just one of the many symptoms that women can experience during menopause. Other symptoms include sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, mood changes, weight gain, and more. Of course, these symptoms vary for everyone – some women may experience only weight gain, while others may have hot flashes briefly.
7. Can I get rid of hot flashes?
The bad news? Some women experience the symptoms of menopause and hot flashes for four years (or more). The good news? There are a few ways you can potentially prevent and treat hot flashes. A few triggers of hot flashes include caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods (a.k.a. everything that is fun). Keeping cool and wearing lightweight, breathable fabrics can potentially fend off hot flashes.
WebMD recommends deep abdominal breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, in the evening, and when you feel a hot flash coming on. Many women have had success avoiding hot flashes with meditation, yoga, and other forms of exercise. Of course, if your hot flashes are severe and begin interrupting your everyday life, it’s always best to check in with your doctor.
Don’t believe the hype about bogus menopause myths
Hot flashes can be terrifying, and so is the amount of misinformation about them online. Always do your research before seeking out relief for menopause symptoms, and when in doubt, ask your doctor. And know that you can count on FemmePharma to continue supporting and educating people on the conditions and issues that disproportionately affect women.