How do I stop hot flushes without Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

    How do I stop hot flushes without Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)?

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    Hot flashes and night sweats, brain fog, weight gain, vaginal dryness and mood swings are all common menopause symptoms caused by a change in oestrogen levels. Hormone replacement therapy can be very effective when it comes to managing symptoms but it's not an option for all women due to health risks or medical history which includes breast cancer.

    Other women choose to take a more natural approach to menopausal symptoms or alternative therapies which excludes hormone therapy. In this article we'll look at some of the treatment options you have to help to reduce hot flushes without hormone therapy.

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    How To Stop Hot Flushes Without HRT

    A hot flush in the middle of an important meeting is a nightmare scenario for many women. The flushed face and perspiration is hard to hide! Menopause symptoms can be challenging at the best of times and there is some evidence that non hormonal options can help to manage hot flushes. These include

    • Herbal treatments
    • Prescription medications
    • Lifestyle changes
    • Soy extracts and soy foods
    • Mind and body approaches
    • Dietary supplements
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    What causes hot flushes and night sweats?

    Changes in hormone levels many women experience in perimenopause and menopause can affect the hypothalamus and cause menopausal hot flashes.

    The hypothalamus helps to regulate body temperature. Hot flashes and night sweats are believed to be caused when lower hormone levels affect its stability causing it to stimulate the dilation of blood vessels which cause flushing with even slight differences in temperature.

    Herbal treatments and natural remedies

    There are herbal treatments and natural remedies which can be an effective treatment to help to manage night sweats and hot flushes as well as other symptoms like low mood. NOTE - Alternative treatments like herbal remedies may not be suitable for all women. You should always speak to a doctor or healthcare professional if you're thinking about taking a herbal treatment to stop hot flushes and manage menopause symptoms.

    Red Clover

    High in isoflavones which are a type of naturally occurring plant oestrogen which mimics oestrogen in the body. Herbal supplements like red clover has been associated with a reduction in hot flashes.

    St Johns Wort

    St John's Wort has been effective for some women to help control mood symptoms like mild depression and to help to manage hot flashes. It has also been identified as a herb which can cause serious side effects if taken with other medications so consult your doctor.

    Black Cohosh

    Black Cohosh or Cimicifuga racemose is a herb from the buttercup family, also known as black snakeroot, bugbane and rattleweed. May relieve hot flushes, night sweats as well as nervous irritability.

    Evening Primrose Oil

    Oenothera Biennis is a herbal supplement made from the seeds of the evening-primrose plant. The oil is a source of phytoestrogens which can reduce hot flashes for some women by mimicking oestrogen in the body.

    Ashwagandha

    There are studies which have shown women regularly taking ashwagandha as a complementary therapy had significantly fewer instances of hot flashes and night sweats.

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    Prescription medications

    In 2023 a new, hormone free medication called Veoza was approved in the UK. This pill works by blocking a protein in the brain called neurokinin B, which is involved in the way the hypothalamus goes about regulating temperature.

    The pills are a safe and effective treatment for hot flashes which stop after a few weeks. Unlike hormone replacement therapy (HRT) the drug makes no difference to menopausal symptoms such as mood changes or vaginal dryness but has been proven to be effective for women who experience hot flushes.

    Soy extracts and soy foods

    Soy isoflavones are chemicals found in soybean products. Isoflavones belong to the phytoestrogen family. These agents bind to the oestrogen receptors in the same way as a woman's natural oestrogen 'fooling' the body into thinking it has enough and taking the edge off symptoms.

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    Lifestyle tweaks

    When it comes to menopausal symptoms every woman is different and it is a little hit and miss when it comes to finding the best way to calm them, including your hot flushes and night sweats.

    There is evidence to show drinking alcohol and coffee is associated with making hot flushes worse. For some women spicy food and hot drinks can activate hot flushes, for others it doesn't make a difference.

    A cold drink, a cooling spray and wearing light layers of clothing for when a hot flash hits can help to get you cooler fast. Regular exercise, moderate intensity level has been associated with reducing hot flashes as well as helping to keep bones strong.

    Natural bed linen and a cool bedroom can contribute to less intense night sweats. A silk pillowcase works well at keeping your face cool and comfortable during the night ( added benefit - smoother hair!)

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    Mind and body approaches

    Studies have shown that slowing your breathing can help to reduce hot flushes. Women who regularly practice yoga can experience less severe menopausal symptoms due to the regular breath work. Yoga can also help to keep your bones strong as by including some weight bearing exercises.

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    Dietary Supplements

    The decline of oestrogen and other hormones experienced by women in menopause is associated with an increased risk of blood clots, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and poorer bone health which can lead to osteoporosis. If you're taking hrt, some of these risks are mitigated somewhat but you still need to pay attention to your diet.

    Avoiding spicy foods, dropping your caffeine intake and balancing your blood sugar can help to keep hot flushes limited and lessen their severity.

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    Don't discount the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet

    Anyone affected by menopause symptoms should try eating a healthy diet with enough nutrients to support bone and heart health. Processed foods should be kept to a minimum. A diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats, green leafy vegetables and fruits will ensure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals.

    Dietary supplements like multivitamins, menopause supplements and specialised meal replacement shakes can be an excellent way to ensure you're getting your nutritional needs met. You can ensure you're getting omegas, iron, vitamin d and vitamin c as well as herbal support to keep you comfortable, healthy and strong.

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    What Kind Of Results Can We Expect When Using Herbal Remedies For Hot Flushes?

    Herbal remedies tend to take anywhere from between 4 and 12 weeks to be effective. You should consult with your doctor to ensure any other medication you're on will not be affected.

    How long does a hot flash last?

    Hot flushes can last between 30 seconds to a few minutes. Symptoms are a red face and neck, an increase in heart rate and sweating - which can be profuse. Hot flashes can be debilitating. If everyday life is being affected you need to seek medical advice.

    When will my menopausal hot flashes stop?

    Hot flashes for most women, hot flashes continue after periods stop. Though hot flashes can last up to 8 years after menopause, frequency and severity decreases.

    Key Takeaways

    Night sweats and hot flushes are two of the most recognised menopause symptoms, contribute to fatigue and low moods which can make life very uncomfortable and challenging.

    Homone therapy, an effective treatment, isn't for everyone, especially women who have experienced breast cancer. There are other medications such as Veoza available to treat hot flashes. Other tactics which work well include a healthy balanced diet, herbal remedies like Ashwagandha and Red Clover as well as lifestyle tweaks. Regular moderate intensity exercise and yoga have also made a difference for some women.