Jeanne Tripplehorn 06.10.1963

Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

Hot Flashes, Hot Flushes, Night Sweats: “Hot Women” Takes On New Meaning

5.30.10

 

I will never forget my first major hot flash. I was in my office interviewing a distinguished and very serious couple who were clearly distressed about the wife’s memory problems. As I was addressing their concerns in my most professional manner—WHAMMM! Suddenly my heart began to race, and my whole body was on fire,   I turned bright red and the sweat started pouring down my face.   My wool suit became unbearably itchy and I wanted nothing more than to rip off my clothes and put my head in the sink.  Instead, I calmly took out a tissue, wiped my face and tried to ignore the husband’s horrified expression.


 

Do you know why we have hot flashes during perimenopause? You’re not alone; no one else does either. That’s why there isn’t a pill specifically designed for hot flashes. When a drug company gets close, I’m buying up their stock. Can you imagine the demand?


 

What we call hot flashes, hot flushes and night sweats are all vasomotor symptoms. These vasomotor symptoms occur in about 88% of perimenopausal women and 74% of menipausal women.   For some women they diminish after one year – for some women they last 30 years!!


 

What we do know is that we have a thermostat in our bodies that closely regulates our body temperature.  We have also known for some time that estrogen plays a key role in hot flashes which is why Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) is viewed as the most effective tried and true method for controlling them.


 

Here’s the good news for us “Hot Women”: now that we are beginning to understand how other factors such as neurotransmitters affect our thermostat we have additional ways to combat hot flashes.


 

Anti-depressant medications, specifically those that alter neurotransmitters (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs) can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 50%.  A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology* reported that SSRIs have been shown to minimize hot flashes, but it seems that citalopram (A.K.A  Celexa or Cipramil) might stand out above the rest. The added benefit is that SSRIs have been shown to improve mood, sleep, anxiety and overall quality of life in menopausal women.


 

Unfortunately, so many women I know refuse to go on SSRI’s because they consider it admitting defeat or failure.  But, like in most areas, women need to let themselves off the hook.  They need to admit that their neurotransmitters are out-of-wack and that it’s not their fault.  The simple fact is that SSRI’s can help to give you back your premenopausal self. So if you’re feeling particularly steamy these days, go make an appointment with your doctor and check out your options.

When does Menopause start? How will I know?

5.29.10

It really doesn’t help that menopause can only be recognized by hindsight. By the time that you can finally look backward and realize that you haven’t had your period for 12 months, you’ve come to terms with the changes, one way or another.


 

 

Wouldn’t it  be great if we had a warning light or a bell that went off somewhere when this whole process kicked in? Instead, we’re left in a state of confusion and uncertainty leading up to menopause that can last from the 40s to the 60s (yes, that long!). Although this transition stage finally has its own name – perimenopause, we know very little about it. There isn’t a definitive test for being perimenopausal. Hormones fluctuate so much throughout a woman’s cycle that your doctor can’t simply take a blood test one day and say “Yep, This is it – you are perimenopausal!”


 

 

The wide range of symptoms that one can expect and why we have them still remains a mystery.   Experts tell us that symptoms of perimenopause include irregular periods, hot flashes and night sweats. But what about those 5 pounds that you suddenly gain that you can’t lose, no matter how much you cut carbs, sweat on the elliptical, or crunch your way to an abdominal cramp? Or what about that gradual increase in anxiety that you can’t explain? Before you know it, you develop sleep problems and that wine (most tragically) starts to give you headaches. How about your recent habit of forgetting familiar names and words and those transient episodes when it seems like your mind is turning to mush…Where was I? Oh, right.  How are these symptoms related to menopause? It’s obvious that we’re going to need from both science and girlfriends to get to the bottom of this issue.  So, before you get distracted by a hot flash and forget, take a moment and send us your menopause moments, concerns and questions!