By: August McLaughlin
Menopause may not seem like a party, but it can be an empowering time. The natural transition away from having to worry about birth control brings many women a sense of freedom and strength. Hot flashes are one of the potential challenges of menopause, but they don't need to get you down. Shift your lifestyle habits a bit to help ease your symptoms. For added support, consult your doctor.
Focus on Relaxing
Slow breathing, meditating and other stress-reducing methods help some women better manage hot flashes. When you sense one coming, take a few long, slow, deep breaths. To better manage hot flashes in general, practice mindfulness by eating slowly and without the distraction of your TV or cell phone. Spend a few minutes or more each day in nature. As a bonus, these habits are great for your body and soul. You may end up sleeping better and feeling more peaceful overall.
Shift Your Diet
Avoiding hot and spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol – common hot flash triggers – can help keep them from flaring up as often or intensely. Take note of foods and drinks that seem to worsen your symptoms, then keep them to a minimum. You can also adjust your favorite vittles and habits to make them less troublesome. Let soups cool a bit before eating them, for example, and swap out hot black tea for an iced herbal variety. A cool drink may help ease a hot flash once it strikes. Eating one to two servings of soy products, such as soy milk or tofu, may also help minimize your symptoms.
Dress Light and in Layers
Your body temperature rises before a hot flash. Just as you would during hot summer months to stay cool, shifting your wardrobe to lighter, breezier threads can help keep hot flashes in better control. Trade your long-sleeved pajamas for a light night shirt or a camisole and panties to stave off night sweats. Wear layers during the day so you can remove warmer pieces as needed—think a cotton, button-down shirt over a tank or light T-shirt. Also try carrying a hand-held fan in your purse for extra breeze as needed.
Connect with Your Partner
Hot flashes and other effects of menopause can be a catalyst for growth in your relationship if you address them together. Talk about your symptoms. Share your feelings rather than bottling them up, strategize lifestyle shifts as a couple and prioritize connectedness in the bedroom. Physical intimacy boosts relaxation, potentially guarding against stress-related hot flashes. If you’re developing vaginal dryness, use K-Y lubricants. Or try K-Y LiquiBeads if you desire longer lasting moisture. The added moisture from lubricants can make lovemaking more enjoyable for you both.
Consider Estrogen Therapy
Taking estrogen is the most effective way to treat hot flashes, says the Mayo Clinic, but the hormone can raise your risk for developing other health problems. More natural therapies, such as estrogen cream, may also bring relief; they're also less likely to bring complications. If you're hot and bothered by your symptoms, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons to determine what's best for you.
About the Author
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer and certified nutritionist in Los Angeles. Her work is featured in numerous magazines including "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "DAME" and IAmThatGirl. She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition and loves connecting with readers and writers via her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.