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.
Products that help with hot flashes
Below you’ll find supplements and herbal remedies that I’ve found effective, as well as other products and gadgets that I’ve found extremely helpful in managing hot flashes (and if you’re an Amazon Prime member you’re in luck, as most items are AP-available, baby!).
Supplements & herbal remedies that help with hot flashes:
- Estroven – Since hormone therapy wasn’t an option for me, I did a ton of research on how to ease menopause symptoms and help with hot flashes naturally. I tried many different herbal supplements/combos that were specifically aimed at lessening hot flashes, and this was the only one that worked. I didn’t notice much change in any other aspect they mention, but when the flashes were coming on hard, fast and often in the beginning, this truly made a noticeable difference in the severity of my hot flashes.
- Maca Powder – This definitely helped with the intensity of my hot flashes, as well as my mood swings (though that could totally be in my head, but hey, even if that’s the case, it works, right?). Among other things, Maca is touted as being a plant alternative to HRT. I started adding this to my daily smoothie, and I really did feel more balanced, hot flashes were not nearly as intense or long, and it gave a mid-day boost without keeping me up at night. It’s a nutritious little bugger, so even if it was a placebo effect, it’s a great supplement to have on hand. Definitely one of my favorite supplements for helping hot flashes naturally.
- St. John’s Wort – I took this for about a year when the emotions were a-swinging, but I saw more of a difference when I switched maca. I have several friends who swear by it though, so definitely on the worth-a-shot list (as long as you don’t have any liver issues).
- Sea Buckthorn Oil – I have to mention this one even though it’s not necessarily for hot flashes…it’s for dryness. And I mean ALL the places you can be dry. Evening Primrose didn’t seem to make any difference for me, but this definitely did (according to Amazon, I’ve purchased this 18 times, just sayin’). Skin looked better, less dry patches, less dryness down yonder. All good.
- Vitamin D – Again, not necessarily for the hot flashes, but make sure and take a peek at your D level at your next physical. I get more than my fair share of sunlight, so I was really surprised to find out that my D was in the toilet. Doc put me on a high dose, and it made a huge difference in my overall energy, and helped with weight as well! If you’re feeling sluggish, there’s a good chance you need some vitamin D.
Some others that you’ll see mentioned when hunting the interwebs that didn’t seem to have any effect for me (but YMMV): Black Cohosh, Ginseng, Elderberry (though fantastic for other things!), and Evening Primrose.
Products to cool down hot flashes, FAST:
For hot flashes while sleeping:
- Cooling Weighted Blanket – Ladies, if you buy nothing else, BUY THIS BLANKET. Of all the things I’ve tried, this one was the gamechanger. I had ignored all of the weighted-blanket-hype, as it sounded like it would add more heat, and mama doesn’t need more heat at night. But when I was researching a cooling blanket, I kept coming across mention of a weighted version, and the reviews sounded really promising. I have the 15 lb., in the twin size as it’s only for me (hey, we’re still sleeping in the same bed, but I realized early on that it would be better if I had my own sheet/blanket, as I had to whip them on and off all night long). And it makes a tremendous difference in my sleep. It magically keeps you warm, while also being cool to the touch. I can’t recommend it enough, the bamboo fabric is so soft and cool, and it has made it through several washings with no issues. LOVE IT, and will have one until the end of time (or whenever the hot flashes stop, whichever comes first). Absolutely my #1 product for helping with night sweats and hot flashes while sleeping.
- Pajamas – If you wear them, the type of fabric you have against your skin can make all the difference when experiencing night sweats:
- Bamboo – Great for moisture-wicking, super breathable. This is my favorite set, especially in the summer.
- 100% Cotton – I have the short-sleeve version of these, and they are fantastic. Wasn’t ever a button-up PJ girl, but discovered these when I was having some surgery and needed them…now I’m a convert. These are sustainable cotton, super lightweight and breathable, dry fast. They go on sale OFTEN, and as of this publish date are currently 50% off. There’s a full short set too, if you don’t love pants!
- 100% raw silk – Definitely the splurge item, but add it to that holiday wishlist! You know what silk is like…slippery and cool. And if it’s 100%, it’s very breathable and dries extremely fast, making it a perfect option for us. This pair is damn cute, and I was tickled when hubby treated me to them last Christmas. These go on sale/promo OFTEN, so keep an eye out. Also keep in mind when ordering that they run really small (if you want it loose like the pics, I say size up x2).
- Silk Pillowcase – Silk pillowcases are good for all kinds of things (easier on your hair and skin, primarily), but they also have a very cool-to-the-touch feeling to them, and breath extremely well. And there’s nothing better than a cool-feeling pillow when you’re feeling hot and bothered (not in the good way. well maybe that too.).
- Silk Sleep Mask – Ok so this doesn’t help with hot flashes, but it does help you fall asleep quicker after you’ve been rudely awoken by one. I also think it helps in the wrinkle department, but that could totally be wishful thinking.
- Portable Neck Fan – There is no shame in my game when it comes to cooling down. But luckily this just looks like I’ve got a set of headphones hanging on my neck so it’s all good! Perfect when sitting at the beach or pool on a hot day, at your kiddo’s baseball/soccer/volleyball/etc. game, or just sitting at home watching a show. Keeps a charge for a long time, adjustable speeds, lightweight. This got passed around a lot this summer!
- Portable Purse/Pocket Fan – Total lifesaver a HUGE help for hot flashes. Especially in the winter, when you’re sitting at an indoor volleyball tournament in a big ole sweatshirt and the hot flashes are making it feel like it’s the middle of summer. Small enough to fit in your purse, USB-chargeable. The one I have is no longer available, but the one I’m linking to looks almost identical. And with a 3-pack you can stash them where you’ll need them!
- Peppermint Essential Oil – I use peppermint oil in my diffuser quite a bit, but for hot flashes specifically I use it 2 different ways. One is to pop one of these peppermint essential oil beadlets in my mouth, then breath slowly and deeply in through my mouth and out through my nose (these are great for clearing sinuses, too, I’m never without these!). The other is to add 10-15 drops of a good peppermint essential oil like this one to a 10 ml. roller bottle, then fill it with your carrier oil of choice (fractionated coconut oil or grapeseed oil are both nice and gentle) and shake thoroughly to mix. You can dab a bit on your temples (also great for headaches), and the back of your neck…instant cooling effect!
- I have one other item in my arsenal that is so, so good, and sadly they’ve discontinued it. Ilia’s Cucumber Water Stick (a solid, stick toner), was brilliant for cooling down a hot flash. I’d swipe it across my forehead and down the back of my neck, and it gave the best cooling sensation. And it fit beautifully in my purse! I’m mentioning it here as I’ve just been told that Milk Makeup’s Cooling Water Stick, while actually for the under eye area, has the same kind of effect and feel. I’ll be ordering it, and will report back! I’ve not used the line before, but it is under Sephora’s ‘Clean’ category.
Those are all my top picks for relieving hot flashes! I hope you find something here that helps, and I’ll be sure and update as I continue this lovely journey. Let me know if you try any of these, and if you’ve found something that helps, for the love of all that is hot and sweaty, please share in the comments or drop me a message!!
Tracey is the founder and writer of Life in the Happy Medium. She’s also a freelance graphic designer, Mom to 2 teens, Wife, and Friend to a tribe she holds dear, who’s prone to some fairly serious car singing and dancing much to her family’s chagrin (old school R&B is where it’s at!).
From cleaner beauty to healthy-ish eating, she’s blogging here to share favorite finds that keep her happy in the middle.
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