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Hot Flashes That Time of the Month

If you are still menstruating regularly, it typically means you are not in menopause. One of the most common symptoms of menopause is hot flashes. But if you are having hot flashes and still have regular periods, there's got to be something wrong with you, right? Absolutely not. In fact, it is believed that up to 70 percent of pre-menopausal women experience hot flashes during their periods.

 The Cause
Our bodies are equipped with a built-in thermometer that keeps our internal temperature in the thermoneutral zone. If your core temperature exceeds the proper operating range, your blood vessels will dilate and hot blood will rush throughout your body, causing you to sweat. If you fall below this range, you will likely get the chills and begin to shiver as your body attempts to warm itself back up.HFN 081 HotFlashesThatTimeoftheMonth F27095807

As a woman ages, ovarian function begins to decrease and hormone levels drop. These levels commonly drop when a woman enters her 40s, but it isn't out of the ordinary for women in their 30s to experience this as well. When hormone levels fluctuate, one of the many side effects is the narrowing of the body's thermoneutral zone, which causes the body to become much more sensitive to slight temperature changes. Therefore, when your internal temperature increases, even slightly, the body attempts to trigger sweat by dilating the blood vessels in your chest, neck, and face, causing hot blood to rush to those areas. When this happens, you will experience the fiery sensation of a hot flash. Since hormones are also fluctuating during a woman's menstrual cycle, it isn't completely surprising that hot flashes would occur during this time.

Clinical Treatments
There was a time when women undergoing severe hot flashes would be prescribed hormone replacement therapy. However, the administration of HRT has both evolved and declined when it was discovered that it increased the risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. For more information on this subject, please visit our Clinical & Medications section.

Since we now know that hot flashes are the body's attempt to cool itself down, we can react accordingly. Wear light, layered clothing that can be removed if you feel a hot flash coming on. Try to spend your time in temperature-controlled rooms (a good room temperature is 70 degrees during the day, and 65 at night), and always keep a cold beverage handy, just in case. Avoid hot tubs and sunbathing, and make sure you are staying properly hydrated.

Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and identifying and eliminating hot flash triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can also help. ♀

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