by Dr. Anna Garrett
02 Jul 2014
Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just Me? 7 Ways to Manage Midsummer Hot Flashes
If hot flashes have your body on simmer 24/7, summer brings big challenges! Where I live, we regularly have a drippy mix of 90+% humidity and 90-degree heat. And that’s not a great combo for us hormonally-challenged gals!
Hot flashes are caused by roller coaster estrogen levels. Up down, up down. And that sudden downswing is the switch that turns the heat on!
So what’s a girl to do when hot weather combines with estrogen antics?
- Try to notice what triggers your hot flashes and avoid those things. Possible culprits include spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, stress, or being in a hot place. Why? Because all of these things can cause blood vessels to dilate. This makes hot flashes worse. A tracking journal can help pinpoint problem times.
- Dress in layers so you can peel off clothes when your “personal day at the beach” starts.
- Stay inside with the AC on or use fans when needed.
- Try taking slow, deep breaths when a flash starts. Paced respiration has been shown to decrease the severity of hot flashes by 44%. Read more about that here.
- Don’t make matters worse with your sunscreen. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. Look for active ingredients zinc or titanium oxide. They provide a physical (vs. chemical) block from harmful UVA radiation.
- Try acupuncture. It’s been shown to be beneficial for helping with hot flashes. Researchers think it works by increasing production of feel-good endorphins, which may stabilize the temperature control system of the body.
- Exercise regularly (but not within 3 hours of bedtime). This has been shown to improve hot flashes in 40% of women.
- Herbals like chasteberry and black cohosh may help even out estrogen swings. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider if these are safe for you.
You may want to consider hormone testing if your symptoms are severe. Tests can help pinpoint your exact imbalance so you and your health care provider can create a plan to maximize your mojo during perimenopause and menopause.