Medically Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on July 11, 2023
Cool Down the Heat
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Cool Down the Heat

Menopause can make your own “personal summers” turn into scorchers. Hot flashes and night sweats are the most common symptoms of menopause. More than 80% of midlife women have these vasomotor symptoms. It’s believed menopause resets your inner thermostat and you feel hotter at a lower temperature. Your body sends more blood to your skin’s surface to help cool you down. 

What Vasomotor Symptoms Feel Like 
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What Vasomotor Symptoms Feel Like 

You may feel heat, from your chest up, and you may flush or sweat. A hot flash or night sweat (a flash that happens during sleep) usually passes in a few minutes. But your heart may race – which can trigger stress and anxiety. Afterward, you may get chills.

Symptoms can run the gamut, from hardly noticeable to very bothersome. About 15% have serious symptoms. Some doctors call these women “super flashers.” 

Try Self-Care for Menopause
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Try Self-Care for Menopause

There are medications to ease vasomotor symptoms. But you may want to try some lifestyle changes first, especially if you’re not bothered too much. 
The way you dress, your bedroom environment, and even what you eat can either make hot flashes and night sweats worse or better. 

Know Your Triggers
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Know Your Triggers

Some things may set off a hot flash. Your diet and other things could be to blame. Typical triggers include: 

  • Spicy foods 
  • Hot drinks 
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol 
  • Medication
  • Stress 

A food diary may help you track what may trigger your personal symptoms so you can avoid them. If you find a medicine is one of them, talk to your doctor. 

Watch Your Weight 
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Watch Your Weight 

If you’re overweight or obese, you may have hot flashes more often, and they can be more serious. But weight gain is common at midlife and can be a difficult problem to tackle. 

Some ways to lose extra pounds include:

  • Limit portion sizes. 
  • Choose water rather than sugary drinks. 
  • Avoid processed foods like chips or sweets. 
  • Pass on fried or fast foods. 


Munch on Menopause-Friendly Food 
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Munch on Menopause-Friendly Food 

A diet rich in fruits, veggies, and lean proteins like fish and beans may help with hot flashes. Foods with soy have compounds that some studies show can control vasomotor symptoms. 
Try these: 

  • Soy milk 
  • Edamame
  • Tofu 

Other foods have compounds that act like estrogen and may control hormone levels. 

These include: 

  • Rice 
  • Oats, barley, and wheat 
  • Berries and apples 
  • Dried beans and lentils

Don’t forget to get plenty of low-fat dairy and green leafy veggies to give your bones the calcium they need to stay strong. 

Move Your Bod 
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Move Your Bod 

Regular exercise can improve sleep, lift your mood, and manage weight gain. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week to get your heart pumping. 

  • Walk or jog outside on a cool, clear day to soak up bone-friendly vitamin D.
  • Hit the pool and take a few laps.
  • Take dancing lessons. 
  • Choose an activity you love, so you’ll stick with it. 

Try tai chi or yoga to strengthen muscles, get more flexible, and improve your balance. It’s important to avoid yoga postures that put too much stress on your spine. 

Be a Cool Dresser
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Be a Cool Dresser

Choose clothes made of cotton or other breathable fabrics. Dress in layers so you can peel off clothes when you feel a hot flash coming on. Try wearing a light shirt under a cardigan or jacket instead of one heavy sweater. 
Other ways to help keep your cool include:

  • Set the air conditioning or heat to the lowest temperature you can. 
  • Use a portable fan at home and in your workspace.
  • Sip cool water throughout the day.
Sleep Smart 
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Sleep Smart 

Night sweats can wake you soaked to the bone. Try these hacks to make bedtime less sticky and sweaty: 

  • Take a cool shower before bed. 
  • Make the bedroom a cool, comfortable temperature.
  • Dress in lightweight pajamas or a nightgown. 
  • Don’t wear socks in bed.
  • Buy “cooling” bedding and pillows.
  • Stash an ice pack under your pillow; turn the pillow over to the cool side when you start to get hot.
  • Keep a glass of ice water on the nightstand. 


Stop Lighting Up
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Stop Lighting Up

Women who quit smoking have less serious hot flashes than those who smoke during menopause, according to some studies. Smoking can lessen your hormone levels and have a negative effect on your ovaries.

Plus, quitting is better for your heart health, lessens your risk of some cancers, and more. 

If you can’t kick the habit on your own, talk to your doctor. 

Mind Your Menopause 
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Mind Your Menopause 

Mind-body practices and therapy may help. These include: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT may help erase negative thinking about your hot flashes so you feel less stress. You’ll still get them, but they may bother you less. 
  • Mindfulness meditation. This helps you focus on what’s happening at the moment. Like CBT, it won’t stop vasomotor symptoms, but you may be able to deal with them better. 
  • Hypnosis. This therapy uses imagery and verbal repetition to calm you. Studies have shown that it can reduce the number of hot flashes. 
Be a Supplement Skeptic
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Be a Supplement Skeptic

You’ve probably seen herbs and supplements marketed to treat vasomotor and other symptoms of menopause. Most don’t have enough scientific evidence to say they make a difference. These include: 

  • Black cohosh 
  • Evening primrose oil 
  • Red clover
  • Dong quai 

Talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplement – especially if you have health problems. These aren’t regulated like drugs and can carry some serious health risks.

‘Dance’ in the Sheets
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‘Dance’ in the Sheets

Having sex won’t necessarily help with your vasomotor symptoms. But vaginal stimulation – with or without a partner – can keep your tissues healthy. 

Still, hormonal changes may thin and dry your vagina, which can make sex painful. Some over-the-counter remedies can help: 

  • Vaginal moisturizers (Replens, K-Y Liquibeads, and others) applied every few days can moisten dry tissues. 
  • Lubricants (Astroglide, JO, and others) used at the time of intercourse can make sex more comfortable. 

Talk to your doctor if sex is still painful. There are prescription medications that may help. 

Have ‘Real Talk’ With the Girls 
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Have ‘Real Talk’ With the Girls 

Talk to friends or family who are going through menopause, too. Find out how they manage their hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms. Share your own tips. 
Learning some new ways to deal with symptoms may help guide you through this phase of life with confidence. 

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Cleveland Clinic: “Understanding Vasomotor Symptoms: Hot Flashes and Night Sweats,” “What to Eat When You Have Hot Flashes,” “8 Myths and Truths About Menopausal Hot Flashes.”
Harvard Medical School: “Dealing with the symptoms of menopause.”
Journal of Midlife Health: “Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Concise Review.” 
Mayo Clinic: “Hot Flashes,” “Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity,” “Hypnosis,” “Vaginal Dryness After Menopause: How to Treat It?” 
National Health Service (U.K.): “Things You Can Do – Menopause.”
National Institute on Aging: “Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?” “Maintaining a Healthy Weight,” “Quitting Smoking for Older Adults.” 
North American Menopause Society: “Bone Health: Exercise Is a Key Component,” “Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes.”