Female doctor in Durban

Dr H Ganesen( MBCHB, MMed Fam Med) 

Menopause and Hot Flushes

What causes hot flushes?

Honestly, we are not entirely sure.  There are two interesting theories:

1.  It is believed that the decrease in oestrogen production around the menopausal period causes these hot flushes.  However there are younger women who have decreased oestrogen production who never experience hot flushes.

2.  The part of the brain that regulates your body;s temperature is called the hypothalamus. Experts believe that the decrease in oestrogen around menopause adversely affects the hypothalamus.  This causes the brain to detect too much heat. The brain then releases hormones to help lower the heat. Your heart rate increases and the blood vessels dilate to allow more blood to flow and dissipate the heat. The increased blood flow causes the body to produce its natural cooling method- sweat. This series of events is what creates that heated, sweaty feeling experienced during a hot flush.

Why do some women not experience hot flushes through menopause?

Genetics : Some studies suggest that women who have lower levels of progesterone are more likely to experience hot flushes.

Ethnicity: Many studies have shown that certain race groups are more prone to experience hot flushes than others.  Yet again, we do not know why this is so.


What can be done to control hot flushes?

1. Avoid alcohol

2. Stop smoking

3. Lose weight

4. Exercise regularly

5. Avoid spicy foods

6. Avoid caffeine

6. Dress in layers so that the layers can be shed when the hot flush peaks

7.  Speak to your doctor about your medical options available to manage the hot flushes if all of the above are unsuccessful.