Hot Flashes May Last Longer Than You Think

  • May 30, 2014
Hot Flashes May Last Longer Than You Think

With summer just around the corner there’s no doubt things will be warming up. For some women, that’s nothing new. Hot flashes, according to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania, are more predominant than health professionals originally thought.

Most middle aged females associate hot flashes with menopause. However, new information shows that hot flashes can actually begin when a woman’s ovaries initially shut down, which can happen up to four years before menopause actually occurs. Coincidentally, ladies entering mid-life can also experience hot flashes for up to five years after menopause. That’s nearly a decade of being uncomfortable.

"I think expectation is a big part of women being upset about hot flashes," said Penn women's health researcher and study leader, Ellen Freeman. "If they're told it's going away in a year or two and it doesn't, that may make them more upset than if they're told what to really expect."

Can We Stop Hot Flashes?

There are many different remedies that pose as a solution for hot flashes; however these fixes are only temporary. Studies show that the most effective treatment implicates the replacement of ebbing estrogen in women. Unfortunately, when the intake of the supplement ends, so does the hot-flash relief. In fact, many doctors discourage the use of supplement therapy after a brief period of time, less than five years.

Although the use of supplement treatment can be discouraged, doctors have found another safe solution. Most doctors will recommend that middle aged females try Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs are the only approved hormone therapy that can aid to hot-flashes. Antidepressants, such as SSRIs, cannot cure menopause or end hot-flashes completely, but they can help make females more comfortable and experience less symptoms of menopause.

Freeman recommends that women take “a dose of realism” and be confident in knowing that they are not the only ones feeling the warmth throughout menopause. Perhaps in adjusting our expectations, we'll be better prepared to take on a decade of hot flashes.

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KEYWORDS: how long do hot flashes last?