If you’re feeling the heat, you’re not alone. Hot flushes, or hot flashes, are one of the most common side effects of menopause - and one of the most frustrating. Whether you’re at home, out and about, or at the office, hot flushes can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and at times embarrassing.
We look at why women get menopausal hot flushes, and some of the best ways to help control your temperature and make you feel more comfortable - including products that help with hot flushes.
Why do women get menopausal hot flushes?
A hot flush is a sudden feeling of intense heat, which spreads across the face, neck and chest and can result in red, flushed skin, palpitations and excessive sweating.
Hot flushes - also known as hot flashes - are caused by changes in a woman’s hormones. As levels of the hormone oestrogen begin to fluctuate, it causes changes to the hypothalamus - the part of the brain which helps to control sleep cycles and body temperature.
The hypothalamus reacts by triggering a heat response in the body, which aims to cool you down by increasing blood flow to the skin, raising your heart rate and making you sweat.
Hot flushes vary in length, but commonly last for several minutes. Following this period of sweating it’s common to experience sudden chills as your body cools down - just to top things off!
Menopausal hot flushes are also associated with night sweats, or excessive night-time sweating, which can disrupt your sleep and cause fatigue.
That’s the science bit - and it’s easy to see why, as well as the physical effects, hot flushes and high temperatures can cause some women to experience anxiety and depression.
How to manage hot flushes
The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to manage hot flushes and help make things more bearable:
Eat for the heat
Some foods and drinks are known to trigger hot flushes, including hot and spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol. Try eating lighter meals, opting for decaf coffee or herbal teas, and including plenty of fruits, vegetables and isoflavones (a plant-based chemical which is believed to mimic oestrogen) in your diet. Good sources of isoflavones include soy-based foods, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds and ground flaxseed.
Keep your fluids up
Staying well hydrated is essential for helping to regulate your body temperature. Keep a bottle of chilled water or squash with you at all times, so you can rehydrate wherever you are.
Dress the part
Wearing loose, lightweight clothes and dressing in layers can make it easier to adjust as your temperature fluctuates. Clothes made from cotton or bamboo are naturally breathable and moisture-wicking and will help regulate your temperature.
Avoid the midday sun
“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”… don’t be one of them! High temperatures and warm rooms can trigger hot flushes, so if you’re outside choose a shady spot during the heat of day, and if you’re inside make sure the room is as cool and well ventilated as possible.
Best products to help manage temperate control
If you’re struggling to keep cool, there’s a wide range of products that can help you to control your temperature. Here are some of our favourites:
Cooling gel mats and wraps
Using a cooling mat, like the Original Chillow®, inside your pillowcase or on your mattress can offer welcome relief from hot flushes and night sweats. Filled with a naturally cold gel, it will stay cool for hours at a time - and for a super-cool boost, pop it in the fridge first!
Meanwhile, to help cool things down during the day, the Brobe Cooling Neck Wrap offers fast and effective core temperature relief in the form of a stylish neck tie that’s infused with tiny cooling beads.
Spritzes and sprays
Applying a cooling body spritz or spray can instantly cool and refresh your skin. The Live Better With community recommend Evaux Hyperthermal Cooling Water Spray, which contains natural spring water and is designed with menopausal skin in mind.
A little bit of Menomagic
This award-winning cream is specially formulated to help cool the skin. Containing a blend of essential oils, including peppermint for cooling, Menomagic is organic and paraben-free, and can also help with relaxation and general well-being.
Best products to help with sweating
If you’re getting in a sweat, there are lots of products that can help, from anti-flush clothing and bedding to effective deodorants:
Beat the flush
The Live Better With community recommend the Become range of anti-flush clothing, which is designed to channel heat and moisture away from the body.
From underwear and vests to the anti-flush nightdress, Become anti-flush technology is proven to reduce the impact of hot flushes and night sweats in over 95% of women, and includes an odour-preventing finish to help you stay feeling fresh.
Go for bamboo
Night sweats can be particularly uncomfortable and disruptive. If you’re enduring your own personal mini heatwave at night, try swapping your normal duvet for a thinner version. Using special bamboo bedding and/or bamboo pyjamas can help to regulate your temperature and draw away moisture, and it’s also naturally antibacterial and odour minimising.
Choose a natural deodorant
A good natural deodorant will allow your skin to breathe, while also keeping you feeling fresh and clean. The Bionsen Deodorant Stick is aluminum and paraben free, and contains thermal spa minerals to help nourish delicate skin.
For more tips and information on keeping your cool during menopause, read the Live Better With articles on hot flushes, including Menopause - Top Tips for Staying Cool During Summer.