Vasomotor instability or the "hot flash" is a common complaint of the perimenopausal and menopausal woman, affecting 60 to 85% of all women. Hot flashes usually occur suddenly, though some women may experience an aura or premonition of the impending hot flash, and generally begin with an intense feeling of heat in the face and thorax. Visible flushing or reddening of the face and neck often follows, with a rise in heart rate and skin blood flow. Skin resistance drops rapidly, resulting in increased skin conductance of heat and a sensation of skin warmth. An increase in peripheral blood flow, heart rate, and finger temperature can result in palpitations and profuse sweating.
Although hot flashes occur for 0.5 to 5.0 years on average after last menses, they may persist beyond five years, and up to 10% of women experience hot flashes for greater than 15 years. Their frequency ranges from 5 to 50 per day, with an average duration of 4 minutes. Women who have undergone surgical menopause are more likely to experience hot flashes than naturally menopausal women, often reaching an incidence of 100% in the first year postoperatively and most commonly described as severe. Although hot flashes often occur spontaneously, they may also be provoked by stress, emotional situations, external heat or warm weather, confining spaces, alcohol use, or caffeine use. Therefore, avoidance/modification of these factors can improve symptoms in some patients.
The cause of hot flashes remains unclear, but they are thought to occur secondary to sudden changes in hypothalamic control of temperature regulation. Estrogen is believed to reduce hot flashes by modulating the firing rate of thermosensitive neurons in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. Hot flashes are worse at night for
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Are Menopause Symptoms Playing Havoc With Your Health and Relationships? Are you tired of the mood swings, dryness, hair loss and wrinkles that come with the change of life? Do you want to do something about it but are wary of taking the estrogen or antidepressants usually prescribed for menopause symptoms?