Hot flashes after menopause can be frustrating, concerning, and uncomfortable. Here’s why this might be happening and what you can do to find relief.
Like a demanding guest who has overstayed their welcome, hot flashes after menopause is over can feel like a really raw deal. Seriously. You’ve done your time.
So what’s the deal here? Are they menopause-related, or is there something else at play?
We’ll take you through the details.
In this article: 📝
- How long do hot flashes last after menopause?
- Are hot flashes normal years after menopause?
- Why have my hot flashes started again?
- What else causes hot flashes?
- What cancers can cause hot flashes?
How long do hot flashes last after menopause?
We hate to be the bearers of a frustrating answer here, but the spectrum is wide on this one.
According to the North American Menopause Society, hot flashes typically last somewhere from six months to two years — but they can go on for much longer than that.
Menopause is defined as twelve months after your period stops.
The time around this is known as the menopause transition and usually happens somewhere in your forties and early fifties.
As your body goes through this shift, you may have some uncomfortable symptoms, including the infamous hot flash.
You may experience hot flashes as a surge of heat through your upper body, often in the face and neck.
They might cause you to sweat, and for some, they could be followed by a cold chill.
Together with night sweats, heart palpitations, and anxiety, hot flashes are known as vasomotor symptoms.
We’re still not entirely sure what causes them, but we do know that they have to do with a change in your estrogen levels.
As this happens, your [body’s hormonal balance is thrown off, causing trouble for your internal temperature regulator.
So what causes hot flashes after menopause? And are they anything to worry about?
Are hot flashes normal years after menopause?
After menopause, as your body settles into its new normal, your vasomotor symptoms should come to an end.
But this usually doesn’t happen in an instant.
New research has shown that hot flashes tend to last, on average, five years after menopause.
And while postmenopausal hot flashes are still not very well understood, we do know that it’s totally possible for them to stop and then return.
Or to simply continue for a long time.
For some women, they can go on well into their seventies.
Quite simply, there’s no one way to do this thing.
So what can you actually do about it?
You don’t have to just grit your teeth and get through this.
There is help available.
For some women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help treat hot flashes, but this is not appropriate for everyone.
If you have abnormal vaginal bleeding, have had a stroke or blood clots, or have had breast or endometrial cancer, HRT is not recommended.
Because HRT comes with various risks for all of us — including cancer, stroke, and blood clots — it’s important to work with your doctor to see if HRT is right for you and how long it’s best to be on it.
Research shows that those who experience hot flashes for longer periods may be more at risk of these adverse effects.
If HRT is not right for you, there are other treatments available.
The FDA has approved an antidepressant called paroxetine to treat severe hot flashes.
There are also a number of other hot flash remedies on the market, like black cohosh and soy isoflavones.
But as the National Institute of Aging tells us, the research isn’t there to back these up yet.
There are also lifestyle changes that can help.
There’s early research to suggest that mindfulness training may significantly reduce the trouble hot flashes cause.
Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can also help.
And preparing yourself by dressing in layers and carrying a portable fan can help.
If hot flashes trouble you at night, cooling down your room as much as possible is a good idea.
And keep an ice pack under your pillow.
That way you can turn it over whenever you need to chill.
Why have my hot flashes started again?
OK, so your hot flashes have made a comeback. Urgh.
The re-emergence of hot flashes is still likely to do with decreased estrogen.
But it’s not as simple as checking out your levels to determine if that’s what’s going on.
This study showed that levels of FSH (rather than of estrogen) appear to be associated with hot flashes in postmenopausal women (FSH stands for follicle-stimulating hormone).
It helps control our menstrual cycles and stimulate the growth of eggs in our ovaries. (That’s why an FSH test can help you identify fertility issues and ovarian function.)
FSH and estrogen work together in our bodies in a complex web of hormones that run our menstrual cycles.
One of the functions of estrogen is to temper the production of FSH — basically so that only one egg a month can grow to fruition to be released.
When we hit menopause, and our estrogen levels decline, FSH can’t rely on estrogen to keep it in check.
That’s why doctors might perform an FSH test as one of the factors that might help you see if you are in perimenopause.
As we learn more, these levels may give us insight into the severity of hot flashes in postmenopausal.
What else causes hot flashes?
Hot flashes can be caused by things other than menopause, so it’s super important to work with your doctor to determine why you’re feeling the way you are.
Medical conditions like thyroid disease, some infections, and anxiety disorders can cause hot flashes.
HIV and tuberculosis can also bring on night sweats that may feel similar to hot flashes.
For some people, eating spicy foods and drinking alcohol can bring on temperature surges, as can some medications.
What cancers can cause hot flashes?
According to the Cancer Association, hot flashes and night sweats are common in cancer patients.
That’s because cancer and cancer treatment can affect your body’s hormone levels.
Gynecological cancers — uterine, ovarian, and cervical — can lead to menopause-like symptoms.
Cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, can also cause hot flashes.
It’s common for breast cancer treatment to lead to hot flashes.
Medications like tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors can both impact your estrogen levels.
But hot flashes can also just happen later in life.
Because there are so many reasons why you may be feeling what you’re feeling, the best bet is always to talk to your doctor.
Identifying the source can help you get the right treatment.
And know that you don’t have to do any of this alone.
Your Peanut community is there to support you.
We’re having the conversation.