All women will experience menopause which is known as the “change of life”. Menopause is the final menstrual period for women and therefor represents the end of a woman's ability to reproduce. Menopause occurs when the production of hormones by the ovaries begins to decline. As this change occurs, the hormone levels in a woman's body will tend to fluctuate, which will have an effect on the woman's menstrual cycle. Eventually, hormone production levels fall to a point where menstruation stops altogether. This point is the menopause.
The transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, when hormone levels begin to fluctuate, can occur from two to five years before menopause. It affects each woman differently and can produce symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbances, low libido, vaginal dryness, weight gain and mood changes. Here we have a look at managing hot flushes.
Hot flushes are the classic menopausal symptom, where women experience an overwhelming sensation of heat in the face or the whole body. It can come on suddenly, overcoming the whole body, so you find yourself repeatedly needing to strip off in a bid to cool down. Hot flushes can occur as little as once a week or as often as every five minutes. They can be worse at night.
Hot flushes are thought to be caused by an imbalance in the brain's temperature centre, which is somehow dependent on oestrogen. Oestrogen levels fall dramatically during menopause and there can be unpredictable fluctuations. When the brain thinks it is too hot, the blood vessels in the limbs dilate and skin temperature rises. You may also feel your heart race and become dizzy, sweaty and anxious.
The first step is to cut out caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. Caffeine activates the adrenal glands, which results in a surge of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. This will exacerbate hot flushes and deplete your body of nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins. Alcohol also puts a strain on your liver, which is responsible for breaking down fats.
There are number of herbs you can take to support your body and hot flushes. Herbs such as zizyphus, shatavari and sage are useful. Some formulations that contain these herbs include Blooms Menopause Day and Night Relief, Nature’s Own Menosleep and Caruso’s Break Free. Other formulations that can be used are Femular, Ethical Nutrients Hot Flush Fix and Promensil Menopuase Relief.