Once again, we're getting confusing news about hormone therapy at menopause. The most recent study says that estrogen may have some benefits for women who've had hysterectomies. But that's not the majority of women. The rest of us face complex choices as we struggle with hot flashes, the most common and distressing symptom of menopause. More than 75 percent of American women suffer from hot flashes during this transition. And they often come on at the most inconvenient times, especially when you're in the office.
As distressing as it is to be embarrassed by rivulets of sweat dripping down your face, remember that hot flashes are not always a bad thing. In fact, some researchers say hot flashes could reduce your risk of certain types of breast cancer.
Still, most of us would be much happier without them. So here are seven things you can do to lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes without any drugs at all:
1. Dress in layers. It sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how well this works. In the winter, avoid heavy sweaters. In the summer, stick close to air conditioning.
2. Lower the thermostat. Hot flashes are less severe in chillier temperatures. Take it down a few notches in your house and you'll save money as well.
3. Stop smoking. Long-time smokers are more likely to have frequent moderate to severe hot flashes. So quit. It's just another reason to do what you know you should do.
4. Lose weight. Heavier women sweat more, perhaps because body fat acts insulation, keeping heat in.
5. Avoid spicy food. This is a trigger for many women. Too much caffeine can also bring on hot flashes.
6. Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated all day long. It helps!
7. Get regular exercise. Exercise reduces stress, another major hot flash trigger for many women. Try for at least an hour of moderate activity four times a week.