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Action Set
Menopause: Managing Hot Flashes

Most women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause, when their estrogen levels are declining. While some women have few to no hot flashes, others have them numerous times each day. If hot flashes are disrupting your sleep or daily life, you are no doubt looking for relief. Fortunately, you have a number of self-care and medical treatment options that can help you manage your symptoms.

Key points

  • No matter how disruptive and frustrating they may be, hot flashes are not a sign of a medical problem. They are a normal response to natural hormonal changes in your body. Hot flashes usually subside after the first or second year following menopause, when estrogen levels stabilize at a low level.
  • Tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, and stress tend to make hot flashes worse. By avoiding these risk factors, exercising regularly, and eating well, you can prevent or reduce hot flashes.
  • The body-mind connection is a powerful element of hot flashes and emotional symptoms. Rhythmic breathing exercises (paced respiration), which help you meditate and relax, may reduce your hot flashes.
  • Treatments that may either reduce or stop moderate to severe hot flashes include short-term, low-dose estrogen (hormone therapy), certain antidepressant and blood pressure medicines, and the herb black cohosh.

what.gif What do I need to know about hot flashes?
why.gif Why treat hot flashes?
how.gif How can I manage hot flashes?
where.gif Where can I go from here?

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Citations

  1. North American Menopause Society (2012). The 2012 hormone therapy position statement of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 19(3): 257–271. Also available online: http://www.menopause.org/PSht12.pdf.

  2. Shifren JL, et al. (2010). Role of hormone therapy in the management of menopause. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 115(4): 839–855.

  3. Burbos N, Morris EP (2011). Menopausal symptoms, search date June 2010. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

  4. North American Menopause Society (2011). The role of soy isoflavones in menopausal health: Report of the North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 18(7): 732–753.

Other Works Consulted

  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force 2012. Menopausal Hormone Therapy for the Primary Prevention of Chronic Conditions: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf12/menohrt/menohrtfinalrs.pdf.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last RevisedJanuary 17, 2013
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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