While hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, these hot episodes can happen to women of all ages, including the young, and it does not always mean early menopause. Continue reading to learn more about hot flashes in young women, including causes, management, treatment, and more to have a better grasp of your reproductive health today.
About Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are one of the most common menopause symptoms as a drop in estrogen levels cause blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate to cool the body down, causing a flushed face, increased heart rate, and profuse sweating, followed by chills once the episode has passed.
Nevertheless, menopausal women aren't the only ones who can suffer from the episodes of intense heat in the face, neck, and chest as these bothersome episodes can also plague the younger generations.
Common Causes of Hot Flashes in Young Women
Hot flashes in young women can be due to primary ovarian insufficiency (POI). Also known as premature ovarian failure (POF), POI occurs when a woman's ovaries stop working properly before the age of 40. Women with POI still have a period, but may have trouble with fertility and can experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and decreased sex drive.
If not due to POI, hot flashes in young women may also be symptomatic of premature menopause - menopause happening before the age of 40 - or early menopause, which happens between the ages of 40 and 45.
While often used interchangeably, POI and premature menopause are not the same. When a woman is suffering from POI, she may spontaneously have menstrual periods, and she can still get pregnant because her ovaries will release eggs occasionally.
When a woman reaches menopause, whether it be premature, early, or normal, said woman has gone 12 consecutive months without a period, meaning her ovaries have halted reproductive functions and hormone production for the rest of her life.
Other Causes of Hot Flashes in Young Women
Although most common of hormonal imbalance, hot flashes in young women can also be due to other factors, including:
- Hyperthyroidism. An overactive thyroid gland can cause young women to experience symptoms of increased perspiration, palpitations, and hot flashes.
- Hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. A young woman who has this surgery may enter into menopause within five years of the surgery, even if the ovaries are not removed. This means hot flashes can happen.
- Medications. Cancer medications can cause side effects of hot flashes and night sweats. If this is the case, speak with your doctor about what you can do to switch medications.
- Other conditions. HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer, and other health conditions can induce hot flashes.
Management of Hot Flashes in Young Women
There are a number of management techniques for hot flashes in young women, such as:
- Avoid triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and other harmful substances and stimulants can all lead to hot flashes.
- Wear layers. Wear loose layers of light cotton clothing so that it is easier to shed them if a hot flash episode starts to come on.
- Always be ready for an episode. Consider carrying around a handheld electric fan or a small spray bottle to be able to cool your face down immediately.
- Prepare the bedroom. To avoid the occurrence of nocturnal hot flashes, or night sweats, keep the bedroom cool, and have a glass of water on the bedside table.
Treatment of Hot Flashes in Young Women
While aforementioned management techniques will help keep hot flashes in young women at bay, they will only ever find long-term relief once the cause is treated. For most, this means addressing the hormonal imbalance at fault.
Some of the most important measures taken to promote endocrine system health are:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy diets are balanced around the three macronutrients: healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbs. Women who are suffering from decreased estrogen levels should strive to include foods rich in phytoestrogens into their diets.
- Exercise regularly. Running, jogging and other aerobic activity is great for the body and mind, not only helping maintain a healthy weight, but also reducing stress levels. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day at least five days a week.
- Relieve stress. Participating in regular stress-reduction activities can help lower cortisol levels whose high levels may be inhibiting proper endocrine system function. They include yoga, tai chi, deep breathing techniques, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and meditation, among others.
- Take alternative medicines. Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements, such as black cohosh, red clover, and evening primrose oil, as well as hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem, can help young women directly battle hot flashes.
Aside from these, there are a variety of natural and effective measures young women can take to treat hot flashes caused by hormonal imbalance. Rest assured that relief is just a click away!
- MedlinePlus. (2016). Primary Ovarian Insufficiency. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/primaryovarianinsufficiency.html
- Michigan Medicine. (n.d.). Hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/hyperthyroidism-and-graves-disease
- National Cancer Institute. (2019). Hot Flashes and Night Sweats (PDQ®)-Patient Version. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/hot-flashes-pdq
- National Institutes of Health. (2010). Too Young for Hot Flashes? When Menopause-Like Symptoms Come Too Soon. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2010/06/too-young-hot-flashes
- Office on Women's Health. (2018). Early or premature menopause. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menopause/early-or-premature-menopause