If you wake up in the middle of the night soaked in perspiration and experience an intense flushing sensation starting in your head and neck and then spreading throughout your body, you may be experiencing hot flashes. Hot flashes or “night sweats” are the most common symptom experienced by women prior to Menopause (perimenopause) and during Menopause. The cause is not definitely understood, however, hot flashes are most likely caused by the complex hormonal changes (declining Estrogen levels) that accompany Menopause. Not all women experience hot flashes prior to and during Menopause. However, it is estimated that 75% of women will experience this condition at some point during the cessation of their menstrual cycle.
Although hot flashes are closely associated with Menopause, there are other causes. Hot flashes can develop as a side effect of certain medications and can sometimes occur with some types of cancers and infections. Your doctor will most likely diagnose the cause with a patient interview and a review of your family and medical history. He or she may also perform a physical examination and/or order a blood test to test your hormone levels.
For some, hot flashes are simply a nuisance and do not interfere with daily life and activities. However, for others, the hot flashes are severe and disruptive enough to seek treatment. The available treatments include hormone therapy, bioidentical hormone therapy and other alternative therapies. Your doctor may also recommend diet and other lifestyle changes to help reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
If you are losing sleep and/or your quality of life is being negatively affected due to hot flashes and night sweats talk with your Gynecologist today. He or she can help you decide the most appropriate treatment or treatments to suit your specific needs.