Is it Hot in Here? No, You Just had a Personal Summer!

The hot flash is the scourge of the middle-aged woman – you’ve no doubt heard the battle cry, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” The prickling of the skin, rapid heart beat, pressure in your head… your skin flushes, you feel anxious, maybe a little dizzy, the sweat starts pouring off of you. All of it unpleasant, but the worst part is, you never know when it’s going to come, how long it’s going to last, or how bad it will be. In an ideal world, hot flashes would only occur when you’re alone and naked in a cold shower. 

Hot flashes are often the precursor which alerts you to a major bodily upheaval – the menopause, or the cessation of the menstrual cycle. It’s an oxymoron to use the article “the” to identify it –“the menopause,” as though it’s a single fixed moment in time. Shoot, for some women, the period between the first hot flash and the actual end of your menstrual periods can be years. 

So, with the “good news” that your hot flashes may last for months on end until you actually are officially “menopausal,” what can you do to alleviate or at least control some of the symptoms? Well, your doctor may prescribe synthetic hormones to control hot flashes, but not every woman is comfortable with that option. But, some good old fashioned common sense tips can help. 

– As soon as you feel a flash coming on, take a hit of an ice cold beverage to counter the effects. Those gallon-sized Icees from the local convenience store work very nicely, though Brain Freeze is often a side effect. 

– Layer your clothing, so that you can subtract and add layers as the flash comes on, and then once it’s passed. Wear natural fibers for its sweat wicking properties, and to avoid stains. 

– Understand that caffeine and alcohol can often trigger a hot flash, so if you must indulge, choose your venue carefully – a hot flash in the privacy of your own home is a lot more comfortable than having one in the middle of a crowded restaurant. 

– Center yourself with meditative exercises; as soon as you feel a hot flash coming on, practice controlled breathing, and stay calm; it will be over in a few minutes. 

– Be sure to get a good workout; a few times a week, for 30 minutes or so. Regular exercise can help reduce the incidences of hot flashes. 

And speaking of a good workout, incorporate a couple of sessions per week of invigorating sex into your exercise regime – studies have proven that an active sex life can decrease hot flashes. So if you ever needed an excuse to have sex, there you go! 

By Juliette Samuel