Intense heat starts in your chest and rises to your neck and head. Beads of sweat grow until perspiration run down your face. It’s a hot flash due to menopause, and it’s a loooong five minutes until it passes.
Multiply that by 20 or 30 and you can call it a day.
Menopause symptoms, like hot flashes and drop in sex drive, haven't changed. But the way women deal with menopause has.
"Women are becoming more accepting of the physical and emotional challenges that are associated with menopause and accepting them as natural, transitional changes," says Karen Giblin. She's the founder of Red Hot Mamas, a national menopause education program. "They're focusing on feeling good and looking at menopause more positively."
Hot flashes are one of the most common signs of perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause. Menopause, when your period stops for good, typically happens between age 45 and 55.
Some women experience the heat and flushing of hot flashes without sweating, while others sweat so much they need a change of clothes. When hot flashes happen at night, leaving you and your sheets drenched, they’re called night sweats.
For about 75% of women, hot flashes and night sweats are a fact of life during perimenopause and menopause. A lucky minority won’t experience them at all. Some women will experience only mild hot flashes.
But for 25% - 30% of women, hot flashes and night sweats will be severe enough to interfere with quality of life, says Valerie Omicioli, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science and a certified menopause practitioner at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
A single hot flash can last anywhere from one to five minutes and may occur a few times a week for some women or daily for others. When hot flashes are severe, they may strike four or five times an hour or 20 to 30 times a day, Omicioli says.
What Causes Hot Flashes and Sweating During Menopause?
Ellen Sarver Dolgen, Coronado, Calif.-based author of Shmirshky: The Pursuit of Hormone Happiness, found her life thrown upside down when perimenopause began in her late 40s. Her first hot flash happened while she was in a business meeting with all men.