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Ask the average person what the menopause is and they’re likely to say it’s the stage in life when middle-aged women become moody, hot and sweaty. Ok, less of the moody (rude!), but hot and sweaty – yes. And that’s down to those annoying hot flushes. Read on for our 15 top tips for dealing with hot flushes...
One minute you’re feeling together – hair (finally) doing what you want it to, make-up on point, clothes feeling just so – until that hot flush hits and you look like a hungover Patsy from Ab Fab (minus the champagne lifestyle).
If that’s not demoralising enough, you don’t know when the next one’s going to hit. Because not only are hot flushes (or flashes as they’re sometimes called) a challenge, even the biggest crystal ball won’t help you work out when you’ll have another – if you ever do. Some women experience a few flushes a day, some a month – some never.
But enough already! We’ve got all the insider tips and tricks to help you manage this unpredictable menopausal symptom. Onwards and upwards ladies!
1. Update your wardrobe.
Synthetic fabrics are out as are tight-fitting clothes (hurrah we hear you cry!). Invest instead in loose-fitting clothes in cotton, linen, silk and bamboo that will allow air to circulate and cool your skin. Also, avoid colours that are likely to show sweat patches. Research shows the anxiety of having a hot flush will increase your chance of having one. You can read more in our clothing blog.
2. Handbag must-haves.
Don’t even think about leaving home without a portable fan and a cooling spray. Menopause-formulated versions do exist but a regular face mist will work fine too. Keep it in the fridge until you head out.
3. Avoid sweaty nights.
No, not those ones! Make menopause night sweats more manageable by switching to cotton nightwear and bed linen. Or push the boat out and go for silk.
4. Be a night-time ninja.
Turn down the thermostat or open a window, keep spare nightclothes and a towel by the bed for a quick change so that you won’t disturb your partner’s slumber, or, more importantly, yours…
For more sleep tips, watch Dr Clare Spencer’s video below:
5. Step away from the rosé…
Sometimes a cold glass of something alcoholic feels like the only way to a) cool off and b) anaesthetise an embarrassing hot flush moment. We hear you. Unfortunately, alcohol can actually trigger flushes. So have your ice and a slice – but top with something non-boozy instead.
6. Limit the lattes.
Don’t hate us but caffeine can cause hot flushes (as can hot drinks in general) so try to reduce your coffee and tea intake and switch to decaf (which might also help you sleep better).
7. Lighten the spice.
You guessed it – curries and chillies might be your trigger. Take note of whether spicy food makes your episodes more frequent or severe and cut down if that’s the case.
8. Let’s get physical.
It may sound counterintuitive but breaking a sweat really can help reduce your chance of having these other kinds of sweats. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have become the next Dina Asher-Smith. Try walking, dancing, or stream a fitness video with your favourite celebrity via YouTube – finding something you enjoy is key. You can also get support and advice from our friends at Her Spirit.
9. Manage your weight.
Being overweight can make hot flushes and night sweats worse for some women. Don’t fall for fads or quick fixes – just take it slow and steady. Talking with our nutritionist partner, Joanne Bolger, will help you head in the right direction.
10. Stop smoking.
It’s not really surprising that this is on the list of things you need to avoid to make hot flushes and night sweats worse. Try to see it as one more reason to kick the habit. The NHS is a great place to start if you need help quitting.
11. And breathe…
The less stressed you are, the more balanced your thermostat will be so make time for anything that relaxes you whether that’s yoga, meditation or a walk around the park. Check out our blog with our favourite mindfulness apps.
12. Talk it out.
Many women find that talking therapies are helpful for coping with menopausal flushing. Research shows that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help reduce the severity and frequency of your sweaty moments by breaking the vicious circle of worrying about hot flushes and potentially making them worse… You can talk to our CBT experts Sue Makin or Claire Lloyd, or check out this great book we’ve come across – Managing Hot Flushes and Night Sweats, A Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help Guide to the Menopause by Myra Hunter and Melanie Smith.
13. Don’t panic.
One of the best tips we’ve got from our CBT squad for minimising the intensity of your hot flushes is to try not to panic. It’s like anything in life – the more you worry, the worse you’ll feel. Hot flushes don’t last more than a few minutes (try timing them) and you’ll be much more aware of what’s happening than anyone else in the room. Breathe deeply, know that it will pass and try to relax.
14. Know your natural remedies.
Lots of the women we see are interested in taking herbal remedies for menopausal flushing. We always recommend looking for the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) mark which means the remedy is of a high enough standard and will do what it claims to. You can find a list of herbal remedies and whether they might be right for you in our article on menopause treatment options.
15. See if HRT could work for you.
Despite having an unfair bad wrap over the years through misreporting, hormone replacement therapy is the most effective way of controlling hot flushes – and menopause symptoms in general. Some women feel anxious about taking HRT because of the various scare stories that turn up regularly in the media. In reality, these risks are tiny for most women. You can find out everything you need to know about HRT here.
If you can’t take HRT, or don’t want to take it, there are other prescribable medications that you could explore, for example, clonidine – a blood pressure medicine that is also licensed to help with hot flushes – or gabapentin and pregabalin (these medicines have a variety of uses for treating migraines, pain, anxiety, and epilepsy); some women find they help with hot flushes and sleep (off-licence use). Read more about the range of treatment options for the menopause here.
We’d love to know what you think – share your thoughts or your top tips for dealing with hot flushes and night sweats by leaving a comment on our blog post below, get in touch via our social channels or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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