Tiny beads of water ran down the pitcher and pooled on the table. I knew that. I saw that. And yet, when I picked up the pitcher to pour a glass of mint-infused lemonade, a generous amount of condensation landed on my shirt and erased the polished look I was going for. Wet tee-shirt contest anyone?
Why was I hoping to look sorta-kinda-if-you-squint-real-hard professional on this occasion? Because I was at my friend Jodi Baglien’s “Wisdom Wednesday,” an open evening of learning and female sharing. Jodi had asked me to take the last forty-five minutes of the night to facilitate discussion on the menopausal transition. My goal was to get those in attendance to think beyond their menopausal experiences and reflect on their mother’s stories, or for that matter any women who had influenced their feelings, about this empowering time of life.
Serenity led off the discussion part of the evening by demonstrating acupressure points that relieve hot flashes. Jodi then followed with a talk on the role of essential oils and nutrition in subduing hot flashes. Prior to my “story time,” the women had a chance to experience a ten minute shiatsu massage, sniff various essential oils, and ask questions of Jodi, Serenity (an acupuncturist), and Jean (a shiatsu therapist). It was hard not to feel a connection to this group of women hungry to understand the changes menopause brings, and even harder not to laugh at our common physical adaptations.
For instance, Serenity (a young woman far from her menopausal years), was demonstrating how tapping on an area in the middle of the breastbone can squelch a hot flash. The women looked at each other and then back at Serenity. “Could you be more specific?” a woman asked. “Yes,” Serenity said. “Tap on your breastbone where it lines up with your nipples.” I looked at the lady next to me. “Does she mean where my nipples are supposed to be, or where they are?” Giggles ensued. Some of the ladies started tapping down by their belly button and Serenity blushed. She has some learning and some aging to do before she gets it.
As I said earlier, I was hoping to be a competent discussion leader. Wet splotchy tee-shirt aside, I did print out some hot-flash facts that I felt would be helpful. Some are not all that new, but worth hearing again, and some do seem fresh off the research press. I took many of the tidbits from a book by Colette Bouchez called The Hot Flash Solution.
If you are suffering from hot flashes I would recommend the book as it offers a number of approaches and additional resources. Nice, because from the women I’ve spoken with over the years I’ve learned that menopause is not a one solution fits all transition. To accompany the book, her website, TheHotFlashSolution.com has a printable diary that helps pinpoint potential hot flash triggers.
Before I include the hot flash bullet points, I thought I would also add Jodi’s email address. Her Wisdom Wednesday’s have weekly themes, and you can sign up for a newsletter that explains the schedule. http://www.jodibaglien.com
Here are the hot flash tips:
From the book “The Hot Flash Solution” by Colette Bouchez
- When your feet are warm the brain gets the signal that all is well. As a result, some women experiencing night sweats find that wearing socks to bed tricks the brain and reduces their hot flashes.
- Hot Flash foods to avoid:
– Caffeine (raises blood pressure and increases heart rate…a trigger for some women).
– Very hot, or very cold beverages. Sudden temperature changes in a hot-flashy body will trigger a reaction. Sip slowly and hold in the mouth for a bit before swallowing to moderate temperature.
– Hot Spicy foods. Similar reaction to caffeine.
– Alcohol in excess. Research says it causes a blood level spike in estrogen and then a drop which may affect hot flashes and mood swings.
– Sweets. The sugar rush boosts metabolism which creates heat. White flour consumption reacts in a similar fashion.
– Artificial sweeteners. Technically the jury is still out on this one. But note your reaction if you’ve had aspartame or some type of artificial sweetener. It may be a trigger for some.
– Food Additives like MSG. May mess with vaso-moto activity and dilate blood vessels.
– Sulfite. Found in canned tuna, crackers, dehydrated foods, and so on. Look for any listed ingredient that ends with sulfite.
– Some aged cheeses. Those containing tyramine can induce a flash.
– Red wine. See tyramine. Switching to white wine might be better.
- Smoking can increase hot flashes. Some research suggests it can cause an earlier onset of hot flashes, more heated hot flashes, and longer lasting hot flashes.
- Allergies. The reaction to specific allergens can involve a hot flash for women at this time.
- Medications can trigger a hot flash. Ask your doctor if hot flashes might be a side effect. Typical physicians may or may not know, but hey, they should. Some possible trigger medications: Calcium channel blockers, SSRI antidepressants, Estrogen Receptor Drugs, Niacin, Aromatase inhibitors, and Migraine medications known as triptans.
- Fabrics that hold heat. Nylon, acetate, acrylic, modacrylic, rayon, and some polyester fabrics can all be heat-holders! Go for natural fabrics that breathe.
- Make-up. Long lasting foundations along with those containing sunscreens can trigger a hot flash.
- Sunscreens. Some women report a flash twenty minutes after applying sunscreen. Try different brands if having issues.
Good luck you beautiful hot women, you!