I'm burning up, thanks for asking.
March 30, 2014 6:44 AM   Subscribe

In the past few months I've gone from healthy, active 49 year old woman to sweat-dripping, unable-to-sleep menopausal woman. I need help with hot flashes that are happening up to 20 times daily, each lasting anywhere from one to ten minutes, and the night sweats that are waking me up pretty much hourly with a damp-to-soaking-wet bed. They're uncomfortable, they're gross, I stink to high heaven, and I need help managing them. What menopause hacks can you share?

I exercise (yoga, weights, running), have an active but stressful career (high school principal), and I live with my teenage son and our cats. I meditate and can deal with stress pretty well. I don't drink or smoke. Sometimes if I can't sleep, I'll take benadryl (but that's it for medications). I do take D, B-complex, magnesium and calcium supplements.

Last year I had an ovary removed as well as successful treatment for Stage 1 cervical cancer. I've had two menstrual periods in the past year; the most recent was a month ago.

My main problem is the sweating. I've got an appointment with a new gyn next month but in the meantime, I'm looking for ideas to help me. I've read about Black Cohosh, about wearing wicking camisoles and changing throughout the day, about sleeping with a fan, etc.

I didn't want to try anything until I put the question to AskMe.
posted by kinetic to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
One of the (many, possibly dubious) claims for green tea is that it helps reduce the magnitude of hot flashes. I'm a 31 year old male, so I can offer only secondhand advice, but I had a manager who swore by it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:03 AM on March 30, 2014

Response by poster: In case anyone has dietary recs, I have Celiac disease and eat a paleo diet (no grains, potatoes, legumes, soy, dairy) that's mostly vegetables, eggs, coconut and olive oils, seafood and fruit. No red meat, very little poultry.
posted by kinetic at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2014

Ground flax (linseed). It is your friend. Three times a day take a tablespoon of ground flax in orange juice (stir it well and gulp it down) or on cereal, stirred into soup. I swear it will make a huge difference to your hot flashes and sweats.
posted by essexjan at 7:09 AM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

There have been several questions re: menopause & symptoms. Not sure if you've read through them, maybe worth a look. There are some interesting anecdotes, links to products and other resources. Also several mentions of flax.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:22 AM on March 30, 2014

Sugar can be a big trigger. Excess body weight contributes to the problems. Exercise really helps.

For sleeping, dust yourself with baby powder, perhaps repeatedly. It helps keep you from feeling sticky. A good "chill" pillow makes a huge difference. My sister swore by a dog waterbed mattress, partially filled, inserted under her fitted sheet to cool her torso.
A small spritzer with water and or a chilled, damp wash cloth kept bedside help you cool down quickly. 100% cotton sheets are the only way to go.

Good quality omega's make a huge difference. Be aware that the omega's dissipate quickly in ground flax so grind your own as you need it. Whole flaxseed is worthless to consume since it passes through your system without releasing the oils. Evening primrose is a good supplement too.

Be sure your calcium supplement has vitamin K. This allows the body to better absorb the calcium.

Keep track of what you are taking and doing. Your methods will need to be tweaked as your journey progresses and your hormone levels change. Do know that it eventually does get better!
posted by cat_link at 7:33 AM on March 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I can tell you I was having hot flashes during the day but really bad at night. I started taking a product called I-Cool (1 tab a day) that can be bought over the counter and it has helped. Please keep in mind I was taking this for about two months before I saw a big improvement but it helped me.
posted by just asking at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

From personal experience, my advice is to skip over all the natural stuff and go straight to an estrogen patch. It will make your life livable again. The other stuff takes way to long and works differently for everyone. This will work.
posted by summerstorm at 8:15 AM on March 30, 2014 [6 favorites]

You can see a GP or urgent care to get started on HRT if that's what you're waiting a month to see the GYN about.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

if you're open to it, acupuncture can really help with these kind of symptoms.
posted by andreapandrea at 8:52 AM on March 30, 2014

A menopausal friend of mine swears by melatonin to be able to sleep through the night. She still wakes up sweaty, but at least she gets some rest. Of course, there can be side-effects and YMMV, but it might be worth a try.
posted by rpfields at 9:11 AM on March 30, 2014

I'm 42 and haven't had a period in 10 months, so I'm speaking from personal experience. I went through a very bad patch of hot flashes/night sweats in late fall last year. Got some black cohosh and my symptoms decreased immediately. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to work, so I was totally surprised, but it gave me immediate relief. I haven't had any more since December, probably, so I haven't been taking it lately...

I also drink about 4-8 ounces of soy milk in my tea every day, and eat tofu, TVP, or other soy-based protein at least 5 days a week. Eating soy may help explain why I haven't had many other symptoms.
posted by sockpuppetryarts at 1:26 PM on March 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oscillating fan in the bedroom.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:26 PM on March 30, 2014

My mother had bad hot flashes, and I get them sometimes for a non-menopause-but-hormone-related condition. She and I both found that cold packs kept in the FRIDGE (not freezer) helped, e.g. those de-puffing eye mask things (but it can go on the back of your neck just as well). And she used to carry around alcohol-based handi-wipes/wet wipes of whatever brand. They're harder to find now, but still around, often market as for car trips. You'll want to avoid your face, but wiping down your neck and chest with those, and then the cooling sensation from the alcohol, is lovely, especially if you also feel sticky and sweaty. I have opted to just keep a bottle of natural but alcohol containing hand sanitizer in my purse, for the same use.

Also, and I can't stress this enough, undergarments that are mostly if not entirely cotton.
posted by sarahkeebs at 10:28 PM on March 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding andreapandrea's recommendation of acupuncture, which has almost completely controlled my hot flashes (and especially night sweats). I am 49 and have been doing this for the past year and a half. Currently I still need to keep an appointment about every five weeks or I'll start getting waves of warm. At first I got a little cavalier and took for granted it was doing anything and let a few months go by.... and was miserable. I don't know if they work for everyone but it has been a god send for me. Now if I can figure out how to sleep and get rid of the 40 lbs I've gained in the same year and a half.

Oh and running which I started doing again in January seem to be helping with them as well. Sadly not the weight. :(
posted by dchunks at 9:09 PM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I tried the I-Cool and I haven't had more than one flash per night since. I have no idea the voodoo magic in this, but it worked for me.
posted by kinetic at 6:11 AM on April 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

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