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Hot Flushes Untreated In Most Women

Women ‘put up with’ the symptoms and a new study shows this is expensive in terms of their own health, and to hours lost to employers. There is help available from bioidentical hormones, but your doctor may only offer HRT.


More than 70% of all menopausal women and more than 90% of those with hysterectomies do experience hot flushes, often to the point where their daly lives are affected.

Women who have a hysterectomy, which is a surgical menopause, usually find that symptoms occur almost immediately following surgery and are usually more severe and long lasting than those associated with a natural menopause.

In the study published in the online issue of the journal Menopause, a team at Yale in the USA found that moderate to severe hot flushes are not treated in most women.

The symptoms can be so severe that women give up work and risk their careers rather than continue to struggle with them and the consequent discomfort and embarrassment.

Common symptoms include:

* fatigue
* sleep disturbance
* depression
* anxiety
* impaired short-term memory

Philip Sarrel, M.D., emeritus professor in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Sciences, and Psychiatry and his colleagues used data on health insurance claims to compare over 500,000 women, half with and half without hot flushes.

The team calculated the costs of health care and work loss over a 12-month period and found that women who experienced hot flushes had 1.5 million more health care visits than women without at a staggering additional health care cost of $339,559,458. The cost of work lost was another $27,668,410 during the 12-month study period and although we do not have any equivalent figures for the UK it is safe to assume they are similar at least in terms of hours of work lost.

What can you do to treat hot flushes?

Certainly a doctor is most likely to offer HRT, or given the recent 5 year advice on maximum time on it, to offer antidepressants. Women, given the adverse publicity about increased risk on it for breast cancer and heart disease, are also looking for a different approach.

Many women find bioidentical natural progesterone can really reduce them, and help with sleep too, but if they are severe – or you have had a hysterectomy – you may well need some additional oestrogen in a combined cream.

Lifestyle changes will help too as many women find coffee or alcohol will trigger a flush, as will simply wearing clothes that don’t allow the air to circulate. Stress, too, is a major trigger and unfortunately just worrying about having a flush in public can be enough to bring one on so stay calm, use natural aids like Rescue Remedy or Lavender oil to calm you and practice deep, steady breathing.