Raise your hand if you’re currently enjoying all that perimenopause or menopause has to offer? Yep, me too. Good times for sure. But whether you’re just beginning the journey or already knee-deep in the hormonal injustice of it all, I have found some products that help with hot flashes and some of the other lovely symptoms you may be experiencing.
Before diving in, let’s get real about perimenopause/menopause for minute: for those of us with kids, how uncool is it that right as we’re experiencing this crazy hormonal cocktail o’ fun, our kids are riding their own pre-teen/teen hormonal carnival ride? What a shitshow. And the infamous hot flashes? Super fun to be talking to someone and suddenly be red-faced and sweating like we’ve just run a marathon. Whoever planned this is not my favorite.
This stage of life can begin to affect women as early as their 30’s, though some get lucky and don’t begin until their 50’s (and some of you lucky dames don’t have any symptoms at all!?). Symptoms can include hot flashes, sleep issues (largely due to those fun night sweats), irregular periods, dryness (skin and vaginal), weight gain and basically an amplification of all the usual PMS symptoms. I would say that perimenopause began for me around 41. And now at 47 (oh crap wait, I’m 48 now…I’ve lost track. Damn you, menopause and your memory-killing ways!) I’m 2 years into official menopause…meaning no period for 2 years.
Talking to the doc
When I first noticed things changing a bit (heavy periods, shorter fuse), I had a chat with my then general practitioner. I had some concerns: my poor moms’ experience with PMS and what we know now as perimenopause was truly awful and I figured I would be in the same boat. I mentioned to my doc that I knew several friends had begun taking a little something to take the edge off, and while I hated the idea of meds or hormones (the Pill and I never got along), I did NOT want to jeopardize my family vibe (as in, I didn’t want my husband and kids to look at me in fear for half of every month because I’d lost my damn mind).
My doctor laid things out for me in a very succinct and practical way. In a nutshell, she said to put my big girl pants on and JUST GET THROUGH IT: it’s a natural part of life, it doesn’t last forever, just experience it when and how your body is supposed to. She had patients in their 60’s still on the pill because they didn’t want to go through menopause. Bad for many reasons, primarily risk for breast cancer and blood clots, neither of which I was willing to risk. (Though she did say if I started to feel like I was going to whack my hubby or kids, we could explore an Rx ;). Luckily my symptoms never got that bad in that regard…only one thrown plate, pretty damn good in my book.)
Dr. R recommended using various tools and strategies to manage symptoms. Her basic tips were to keep cool (which might mean a fan on my side of the bed, thermostat set low and extra blankets for hubs), exercise and go easy on the caffeine and booze. Those last 2 are tricky, I know. She did throw out a couple of supplements that might help with hot flashes and mood (more on that below), but it really was a refreshing approach in this age of over-medicating. I will forever be grateful for her insight and attitude towards the big Change.
Now that said, I consider myself lucky. There’s no shame in those prescriptions, and in fact I fully support using the awesomeness that is modern medicine when needed (happy medium, people). If the anger/emotional aspects of the hormone roller coaster had been off-the-chain (and long term), doc and I would’ve revisited our convo. But whether you’re taking a ‘scrip, doing the hormone thing or sticking to all-natural, hot flashes are along for the ride and there are some basic products and gadgets that can bring relief no matter your path through this stage of life.
Hot Flashes suck.
They are definitely my least favorite part of this journey. And it irritates me to no end that they don’t really know why we have them. I mean, it can’t be good for ones body to overheat this way. I’m convinced the overheating is killing the memory cells, thus the constant walking into a room and forgetting why the hell I went there.
When I started having hot flashes, I tried anything and everything to find relief. I spent hours researching ‘natural remedies for hot flashes’ since hormone therapy isn’t an option for me. Some made a difference, most didn’t. In the end it’s really come down to what Dr. R said: use tools and strategies to help cool down the hot flashes. I’ll share some things I’ve tried that were of some help, as well as some products and strategies that have truly brought some #hotflashrelief.