BENGALURU: Menstruation is a sign of a girl marking the beginning of reproductive years. After a certain age, the periods end with menopause. For most women, menopause starts between the ages of 45 and 55 years. However, for some women early menopause onsets before 45 years (early menopause) or even 40 at times (premature menopause). This could happen due to genetics, illness, or medical procedures.
Women going through early or premature menopause have to deal with hot flashes, mood swings, and other menopause symptoms along with additional physical and emotional concerns. These symptoms indicate that the ovaries are producing less oestrogen.
Some of these symptoms include:
Missed or irregular periods
Heavier or lighter than usual periods
One of the most common symptoms of early menopause is hot flashes. It’s described as a sudden feeling of heat, sweating, and at times a red, flushed face. Hot flashes begin when the blood vessels close to the surface of the skin widen to cool off, leaving a person broken out in a sweat. Some women even experience a rapid heart rate or chills. Hot flashes are also referred to as night sweats when they occur while the person is asleep, making the person wake up and deprived of adequate rest. They also tend to affect women who begin menopause after chemotherapy or have had surgery to remove their ovaries.
Hot flashes often tend to appear suddenly but sometimes you may feel them comiwng on.
Some of the signs of hot flashes include:
Tingling in fingers
Heart beating faster than usual
Skin feeling warm suddenly
Face getting red or flushed
Sweating, especially in the upper body
While some hot flashes occur only for some seconds and stop after that, a long hot flash can go on even for over 10 minutes. On average, hot flashes are reported to last for about 4 minutes. The frequency of hot flashes also differs.
The causes of hot flashes are also not known distinctly. However, there has been evidence that hot flashes happen as a result of hormonal changes in the body. Obesity and metabolic syndrome are believed to increase the incidence of hot flashes but their connection to other health problems, such as diabetes, is being studied.There are certain triggers that may make them more frequent or more severe, and thus can be kept away from. Some of these common triggers are:
Increased salt intake
One can, however, not deny that prevention in whatever manner is always better than the cure and taking small precautionary steps or making some lifestyle choices can certainly make as much or rather more impact on one’s body as any medication or supplement consumed. Being mindful in some of the following ways can help in improving health:
Eat a well-balanced diet and keep a check on the portion size
Exercise regularly in the form of walking, swimming, bicycling, and dancing, etc.
Avoid smoking, and stay away from secondhand smoke as well
Keep your surroundings cool. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made with natural fibres like cotton
Practise deep, slow breathing in the morning, in the evening, and also when a hot flash starts
Plant oestrogens, found in soy products, can have weak oestrogen-like effects that could cut hot flashes
The author is consultant-obstetrics and gynaecology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Sarjapur Road