“It’s easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer. Every dawn seemed to promise fresh miracles”. – Anna Godbersen
When Anna Godbersen wrote Bright Young Things, she clearly wasn’t writing about menopause. There’s nothing “effervescent and free” about hot flushes, nothing “miraculous” about a racing heartbeat and night sweats. A summer of menopause is something you wish was easy to forget and is certainly something you want to escape. In addition to bio-identical hormone replacement treatment (BHRT), you might want to try these other tips for staying cool. Otherwise it may be a loooooooong summer.
Tips for staying comfortable this summer
Wear loose, breathable clothing
Summer is a great time to wear loose fabrics that are breathable and allow air to flow in and out. Cotton is a favourite, and linen is a light fabric that can dress things up a touch. Your pyjamas too should be loose and breathable.
Carry a fan
Carry a small battery-powered fan in your purse or pack a pretty paper fan. A fan will offer great relief when air conditioning is not available.
Scope out the nearest restrooms
When out and about, take a look around for your nearest restroom. If you feel a hot flush coming on, the faster you get to a cool oasis the better. Splashing cool water on your face or neck can prevent a hot flush from feeling overwhelming.
Carrying a bottle of water with you is a crucial part of a day out with menopause, especially in summer. Cold treats such as iced tea can be instantly refreshing, but should not be relied on. Be selective with your drinks and ensure you limit sugar and caffeine which can trigger hot flushes instead of helping them.
Give up smoking
Smoking women have more hot flushes than non smoking women, especially those with certain genes. A study from the Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine showed that women who have one or more of five gene variations linked to the metabolism of oestrogen and susceptibility to environmental toxins, like cigarette smoke, were up to 84 percent more likely to experience hot flushes.
As women age, they become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Exacerbated effects can cause increased hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia, and can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, organ damage and osteoporosis.
Freeze a flannel
Having a cold flannel or a cold pack you can pull from the fridge or freezer during a hot flush will feel amazing, instantly cooling you down. Place it around your neck for the best effect.
Take cool showers
If you’re struggling to cool down during the day, take regular cool showers. The key word here is “cool” – no one expects you to freeze. Also take a cool shower before hopping into bed to limit your risk of night sweats.
Cool your bedroom
If you have air conditioning, be sure your bedroom is nice and cool before getting into bed. Once in bed, a fan can offer good relief and won’t add too much to your power bill.
Avoid spicy food
When you eat spicy food your core body temperature goes up and you start sweating. Imagine combining this with a hot flush! If you really love spicy food and don’t want to give it up, keep spicy dishes for the comfort of your home, opting for milder dishes at restaurants.
Weight gain is a common symptom of menopause that will make overheating even more uncomfortable. Contributors include declining oestrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue, and lifestyle factors such as diet and lack of exercise. Treatment options include a healthy diet, regular exercise, strength training and HRT.
Stressful situations can trigger a hot flush so try to limit the stress in your life. If you feel yourself getting flustered, take a moment to step outside and get some fresh air, or find a cooling oasis and sit for a few minutes.
Do you have access to a pool or the ocean? Then use it! Swimming is an excellent way to not only cool off but keep the weight off through exercise. By hydrating the skin, the water limits the chance of you overheating, making working out in summer a lot more comfortable.
Try natural remedies
Acupuncture, hypnosis, vitamin E, evening primrose oil, black cohosh, red clover, wild yam cream – these are all natural remedies associated with relieved symptoms of menopause. Isoflavone-rich soy is another natural remedy to think about, with two glasses of soy a day thought to minimise symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats.
Enjoy no-fat frozen yoghurt
An ice cream can bring great comfort when in the midst of a hot flush, but ice cream isn’t all that friendly on the waist. Instead, try switching ice cream for no-fat frozen yoghurt, a frozen fruit drink, or a few frozen grapes.
Enjoy your summer!
Hot flushes and summer are two words that can fuel a great deal of angst for women, but they don’t have to. With a little bit of preparation and by being creative, you can beat the heat this summer and stay comfortable despite going through menopause.
For more information on menopause and your symptoms, visit our detailed page here.