What can I do to get some hot flash relief?

My life is so stressful right now–and on top of everything, my hot flashes are getting worse.

The key to the answer is in your question. Research shows that women with moderate anxiety were nearly three times more likely to report hot flashes compared with women who had normal levels of anxiety. That finding held true even after adjusting for other factors like depression, smoking, and body mass index. Stress is a response to a perceived threat, and anxiety is a reaction to stress. So if you can manage your stress level, you can reduce the likelihood of hot flashes.

By managing your stress level, you can reduce the likelihood of hot flashes.

Stress is a part of life, but there are healthy ways to manage it. Don’t overcommit. Exercise regularly and eat right. Get enough sleep, practice mindfulness, and spend time with friends.

If you try these things and have tried avoiding spicy food and alcohol, and are still struggling with hot flashes, you may want to consider treatment. Hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) is the most effective treatment. Another option is medications that are used off-label to treat flashes. For example, about 50 percent of women who are on certain antidepressants (e.g., Venlafaxine, Paroxetine, Fluoxetine) enjoy a reduction in hot flashes, although the medical community doesn’t fully understand why. Gabapentin (an anti-seizure/pain management medication) and Clonidine (an antihypertensive medication) also seem to reduce hot flashes.

Some of my patients have used non-prescription products like Relizen and Femarelle (available only online) with some success, but remember that’s anecdotal evidence. We don’t have a lot of data on the effectiveness of herbal or over-the-counter products. 

Talk with your healthcare provider, who can help you decide which option is best for you.