The polar vortex has nothing on my hot flashes
February 11, 2014 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Short of (going back on) estrogen, what can tame these damned hot flashes?

I started into menopause at age 42 (ten years after an ovary-preserving hysterectomy) and went on estrogen HRT. At age 49, my doctor reduced me to a much lower dose, just to help preserve bone density, and all was good after a brief flurry of hot flashes. A few years ago (I'm 59 now), I started tapering off the estrogen altogether and have been totally beset by life-interrupting hot flashes ever since. At least three every night, and often as frequent as hourly during the day.

About me: My BMI is in the normal range, I work out five mornings a week, eat a generally low-carb diet (except for cookies), drink two cups of coffee daily and am a moderate drinker. I'm hypothyroid and hypertensive; both are well-controlled with medication. My thyroid panels (and synthroid dosage) have been stable for several years.

So far, I have tried without success: black cohosh, getting off dairy products, and a lot of swearing and fanning. Going back on the estrogen, for a variety of reasons, is not really an option.

At this point, I'm willing to try just about anything to feel like a normal person again. So hit me with your best suggestions! Weird, anecdotal, off-the-wall - I don't care. I just want some relief!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm almost one year into surgical menopause and can't use HRT for reasons.

Caffeine sets me off, so I am down to one drink in the morning.

One glass of wine with dinner and I know I'll be up a lot that night a sweaty mess. Doesn't always stop me but I drink a whole lot less.

I drink a lot of water when I'm having a hot flash, and it does help.

Acupuncture really helps too. Actually, in preview, it's been hugely helpful. High recommend.
posted by mamabear at 8:55 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The hystersisters website has a huge amount of data (anecdotal and otherwise) regarding surgical menopause, including methods to mitigate hot flashes.
posted by blurker at 8:59 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Amberen really, really worked for me.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:03 PM on February 11, 2014

When I was going through my worst hot-flashy period, I had to give up my beloved Thai food and curries. Anything spicy made me feel as if I was standing in an oven. (This too shall pass! My hot flashes have subsided and I can eat curry again!)

Drinking lots of cold water really helps. So does a fan. Keep a little one at your desk, and train a fan on your bed at night. Bonus: the white noise from the fan can lull you to sleep.

Wear loose-fitting clothing in natural fibers if you can. Make sure your bedding is all cotton. I found that a Chillow was a godsend for those miserable nights when the hot flashes would sweep over me in waves. And - if you normally sleep with pets in the bed - kick them out. Cats are Nature's own hot water bottles! My kitties' noses were out of joint, but I slept much better.

Get some cold packs (the ones used to keep food cold work fine, and are less expensive than the medicinal ones) and put one at the small of your back or wherever else works best.

Good luck - thankfully hot flashes go away once your body's hormones have settled down.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2014

Effexor in low doses is prescribed for women with extreme hot flashes after being thrown into menopause from cancer treatments. Might be worth asking your doctor about.
posted by five_cents at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2014

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