Who turned up the heat? – Perimenopausal Hot Flushes and Night Sweats

Who turned up the heat? – Perimenopausal Hot Flushes and Night Sweats

Hot Flushes/ Night Sweats

These are usually one of the first signs that you will start to experience in your perimenopause phase – those months when your periods start to get erratic (doctors do not count that you had reached menopause until you’ve not had periods for 12 months).

From my experience of speaking to women, these normally start at night, when you’re perhaps tossing and turning in bed and feeling a bit warm, even in winter time and with the central heating off in your bedroom. Gradually the heat can increase to such an extent that you are physically sweating, some women can drench their bedding and have to change their sheets daily. Others have told me that they feel so horrible that they get up to shower one or more times a night and change their bedding each time! These are extreme and rare cases, but they are examples of how bad things can get.

The night sweats have a habit of keeping you awake as it’s difficult to sleep properly; sometimes it’s helpful to get to sleep earlier to catch some zzzs before the sweats kick in which tends to happen after midnight. You may also find that your partner’s sleep will also take a backseat because you are waking them up; if they need to sleep in the spare room to get a decent night’s sleep, then please don’t let this become the norm, as it’s not good for your relationship.

Hot flushes are the daytime equivalent of night sweats and can vary from a simple momentary heat pulse that goes away instantaneously to a full blown “red in the face”, “sweat pouring down your cheeks” that can last for up to a minute. They can occur throughout the day or you may find that you have periods of the day when they get active. You can get these three or four times a day or up to every 10 minutes.

Prior to my hysterectomy, I had been given hormones injections to simulate the menopause, so I was already familiar with the jolly old flushes and sweats. But I do recall that my first instinct was “I’m sweating, so I must smell”: I used to rush into the bathroom and sniff myself. Luckily, these menopause sweats don’t make you smell, but understably you can start to feel self-conscious and this can be bothersome for women in the workplace. It’s particularly bad for professions that require the wearing of uniform such as the police, armed forces and barristers in court who must wear heavy black robes and wigs.

Quite a few women find themselves extremely embarrassed by the flushes because they feel that their colleagues may be (a) talking about them (b) thinking they are getting old (c) should be pensioned off. Even in companies with a dedicated human resources officer, staff can be reluctant to speak up, which affects their performance and the whole thing can snowball.

At home, this can also impact on your personal relationships, when you’re having night sweats, the last thing you want is anyone near you making it worse and as for sex…

Dependent upon the severity of your symptoms, you may need to consider getting some form of oestrogen replacement, either pharmaceutical based or dietary supplement that contain phytoestrogens (from plants). When your body is happy that you are getting oestrogenic support again, you will find that the sweats and flushes start to reduce significantly.

I can still get the odd flush now and again, but it really doesn’t bother me because I have a quality of life; you deserve the same.