For the last 2-3 years, on and off, I’ve been experiencing perimenopausal symptoms. The worse; sweating.
They tend to be worse in the evenings and at nights.
I can be cold, watching T.V. then suddenly, whoosh! The heat starts around my chest and rises to my face. I actually feel I’m going to combust. I’m then frantically fanning myself, for a couple of minutes until it wears off. And then, about half an hour later, it happens again.
However, this is nothing compared with the night sweats.
Sometimes it’s not too bad but when it’s bad….
I dance the duvet dance.
First of all, I cover myself with a sheet and fall asleep. I wake later covered in sweat. So, I throw my sheet off and lie there. Of course, I get cold so, decide to cover myself up with both the sheet and duvet and fall asleep.
I wake up an hour later and you’ve guessed it. I’m sweating! So off goes the sheet and duvet, only to get cold again.
I try different sheet and duvet placements on my body so I’m not too hot or cold, bearing in mind that I’m lying within a foot of an opened window, which I can’t shut because I’d be too hot! I go to sleep and in an hour, yep; I’m awake, again!
So, it’s sheet and duvet on, off, on, off all night, dancing the duvet dance, until I finally get up, in a very bad mood….
I know that I’m quite lucky because the sweating episodes could be worse, (oh God. No!) and I think that what I do helps to reduce the severity of them.
I’m not taking HRT as yet, because I’m going to see how I get on. I would recommend seeing your doctor if your sweats are nearly ruining your life.
Why do you have hot flushes?
Oestrogen is involved in regulating your body temperature. The fluctuations of oestrogen during the perimenopause and menopause interfere with your body’s ability to keep a steady blood flow. The changing levels of oestrogen can cause sudden surges of blood, making your blood vessels constrict or dilate. When they dilate, heat is carried by your blood to your skin and of course, you sweat to cool down.
Each woman is different, but here is a list of foods that are believed to help.
- Fruits, veg and whole grains. A study of 17,000 menopausal women showed that the women who ate lots of the above experienced fewer hot flushes than those who ate less nutritious diets.
- Soya products. These include tofu, edamame beans and soya milk. Soy contains plant oestrogens which are thought to regulate levels of female hormones in the body. Just to support this, studies have shown that only 20% of menopausal Japanese women experienced hot flushes, as compared with 75% of women in the West. It’s believed that this outcome is due to the fact that Japanese women tend to follow a soy-based diet.
- Flaxseeds. 4tbsp a day help to balance hormone levels and may reduce hot flushes.
- Strawberries. This fruit contains plant oestrogens that may help to regulate your body’s oestrogen levels, vitamin C, needed to balance hormones, 5 types of vitamin B, vitamins E and K; all important to help to control hormone levels.
- Garlic. 1 clove a day. Another food that contains plant oestrogen.
- A glass of red wine, unfortunately only 1 a week! Apparently, a glass of red wine can slow down the oestrogen removal from the body.
Foods to avoid or reduce:-
- Spicy foods. Capsaicin in chillies and piperine in black pepper dilate blood vessels.
- Alcohol. Yes, I know I said it’s ok to drink a glass of red wine but only 1 a week. Studies have shown that more than one alcoholic drink a week and daily drinking, in particular, increases the risk of hot flushes and their frequency and severity.
- Caffeine. Because of its stimulant effect.
- Sugar. Too much sugar can worsen hot flushes because increased sugar levels initiate a stress response, which in turn can trigger a hot flush.
- Dress in layers, so you can remove them when you have a hot flush.
- Have ice water close by to sip.
- Take a cool shower before bed.
- Apparently, there are cooling pillows you can buy.
- Try herbal remedies such as Black Cohosh, Red Clover and Evening Primrose Oil.
- When you can feel a hot flush coming on, focus on your breathing and breathe deeply in a relaxed way to feel calmer.
- Use an ice pack on your face.
- Make sure you chew hot food properly to cool it down before you swallow it.
For me, without a doubt, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods definitely make me worse, so I limit these in my diet. I have one drink in the morning with caffeine in (otherwise, I can’t sleep) and drink decaf and herbal teas for the rest of the day.
I have soya milk in my daily porridge and regularly eat edamame beans in my meals.
Also, I use Promensil, a cooling spray to use when the hot flushes come on. See my home page for link.
I tried herbal supplements but they didn’t work for me.
So, reduce or avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar, dress in layers, sip water and maybe try herbal supplements. Just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they won’t work for you.
Sources: healthline.com, saga.co.uk, health.clevelandclinic.org, webmd.com, womansday.com, breast cancer.org, hormonehealth.co.uk,