Most women expect the symptoms provoked by hormonal fluctuations during menopause to stop once their periods end. While it is true that the infamous hot flash episodes are the most intense during perimenopause, some women experience hot flashes long after menopause. Learn more here.
What Are Hot Flashes after Menopause?
There are three levels of hot flash severity:
- Mild hot flashes. Sensation of heat without sweating or dampness.
- Moderate hot flashes. Generally accompanied by sweating or dampness, but a woman can continue with current activity.
- Severe hot flashes. Characterized by intense heat and sweating. They often cause disruption to the daily routines and drive women to seek immediate relief.
Hot flashes after menopause is over share the same characteristics of hot flashes experienced earlier in menopause. The sensation is characterized by feelings of intense heat in the upper body, perspiration, and - occasionally - chills.
The longevity of postmenopause hot flash episodes varies from woman to woman but can last between thirty seconds to five minutes. The intensity and frequency of hot flash episodes also vary, but commonly lessen with age.
Many factors bring about hot flashes. Learning to avoid them as much as possible allows women to reduce the intensity and frequency of the episodes.
What Causes Hot Flashes during Postmenopause?
Peri- and postmenopausal hot flashes are usually caused by decreased estrogen levels. Low estrogen causes the area of the brain that controls body temperature - the hypothalamus - to malfunction and falsely detect an increased internal temperature. In attempt to cool down, a hot flash occurs. Simultaneously, women will experience an increased heart rate and perspiration.
If hot flashes start before the end of menstruation, they last an average of nine to 10 years. On the other hand, if not present during perimenopause, hot flashes after periods last an average of three and a half years. Considering the average age of menopause is 51 in the United States, this means they could go into a woman's 60s.
What Triggers Hot Flashes?
There are various factors that can trigger hot flashes, including:
- Foodstuffs and beverages, like caffeine, alcohol, and spices
- Warm environments
How Can I Manage Hot Flashes after 60?
Managing hot flashes after 60 works the same as managing hot flashes throughout the perimenopause transition. The following tips are recommended:
- Follow a healthy diet with less caffeine and sugar and more whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables, especially those containing phytoestrogens.
- Implement regular exercise into your routine to improve blood circulation and promote endocrine system health.
- Try to avoid known food triggers, such as spicy or heavily-seasoned foods.
- Make your bedtime routine less conducive to nocturnal hot flashes by sleeping in a cool room; using breathable, lightweight pajamas; and keeping a glass of cold water by the bed.
- Take a cool shower right before bedtime to reduce your body temperature.
- Keep a diary and note down when you get hot flashes. Over time, this could reveal a pattern, help you notice the triggers, and prompt lifestyle alterations.
- Guttuso, T. et al. (2012). Review of hot flash diaries. Maturitas, 71(3), 213-216. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.12.003
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2015). Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can last for years | Is it normal for hot flashes to last long after menopause begins? Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/menopause-related-hot-flashes-night-sweats-can-last-years-201502237745 | https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/is-it-normal-for-hot-flashes-to-last-long-after-menopause-begins
- Mayo Clinic. (2018). Hot Flashes: Symptoms & causes | Diagnosis & treatment. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790 | https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790