Menopause Myths: Hot Flashes Are Due To Low Estrogen Levels
Most women cite low estrogen levels as a cause of hot flashes. And indeed, since estrogen is the most commonly prescribed hormone for hot flashes, it seems that estrogen hormone therapy does relieve at least some symptoms. But studies have shown that hot flashes may not be due to low estrogen levels alone. There are many factors that may increase a woman's likelihood of having hot flashes.
Are Hot Flashes Due To Low Estrogen?
While it seems that low estrogen levels play a role in causing hot flashes, estrogen may not be the only hormone to blame. Pregnant women often experience hot flashes due to their elevated levels of estrogen. Low levels of progesterone and testosterone have been known to cause hot flashes. Stress hormones, follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), and luteinizing hormones (LH) are thought to cause hot flashes. All these hormones are affected during menopause. Scientists aren't sure if the low estrogen levels trigger hot flashes or if they're due to elevated levels of other hormones. Perhaps it's a combination of various levels of various hormones. Even thyroid deficiencies and elevated insulin levels trigger hot flashes.
Possible Causes of Hot Flashes
Some studies have shown a link between FSH and LH levels and hot flashes. The studies seem to show an over-production of these two hormones, perhaps due to low levels of estrogen. Women with high levels of FSH and LH are more likely to have hot flashes, but hot flashes still can occur in women with normal levels of FSH and LH. Therefore, scientists have concluded there is a link between FSH, LH, estrogen, and hot flashes, but they aren't sure exactly which is the cause.
Hot Flash Triggers
Some women find that specific things trigger hot flashes. Many women find that intense exercise or stress is a cause, especially stress that gets bottled up inside and isn't released. There are many common dietary triggers, such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, or sugar. Tension, anxiety, anger, or feeling out of control may cause a hot flash. Since triggers can be physical or emotional, take care to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat well, and reduce stress.
Managing Hot Flashes
The most helpful way to deal with hot flashes is to learn what triggers them, and adapt your behavior to prevent them as much as possible. Remember, there's no way to completely prevent hot flashes, but you can try to minimize their occurrence. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga may help to calm your nerves and deal with feelings of anxiety and frustration. Mild to moderate exercise on a regular basis can do wonders at toward easing hot flashes. A balanced diet will keep your body healthy as you go through menopause. Dressing in layers and icing your wrists will help calm the hot flash, just be sure to put layers back on once it's over so you don't become chilled.