Crunchy Christian Podcast
How to Get Fast, Natural Relief for Hot Flashes
Episode 53-If you are a woman in your 40's, you are probably in the years known as perimenopause. It is during these years--especially in your late 40's--that you may start experiencing hot flashes as well as other symptoms of declining hormone levels. Sometimes your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy to ease discomfort. But, hormone therapy can have unpleasant side effects. So, you may choose to try natural relief first. Learn more about these options in this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast.
What Are Hot Flashes and Why Do You Get Them?
First, let's talk about what's going on in your body. Most women know that they will cease getting their period sometime around age 50 or so and this is called menopause. But, women's bodies start winding down and preparing for that time anywhere from four to fourteen years before that. That means that you can start experiencing symptoms of declining hormone levels as early as your late 30's. However, for most women, symptoms don't appear until a decade later. The age at which menopause occurs is genetic, but is also influenced by surgeries, pregnancies, and some health conditions.
Your hormonal cycle
The menstrual cycle is a dance between two hormones, progesterone and estrogen. We hear a lot about estrogen, but not so much about progesterone. Progesterone is produced by the remains of the egg follicle, or corpus luteum, after the egg is released. This hormone stimulates the uterus to thicken to support an embryo. So, progesterone levels are high in the second half of your cycle. Then, the corpus luteum naturally breaks down after 13-14 days if there's no embryo. Then, of course, progesterone levels fall and you have your period.
But if there is an embryo, the corpus luteum (and progesterone) plays an important role in nourishing and supporting the growing baby until the placenta can take over. Progesterone levels remain high throughout pregnancy. It is the hormone that gives us that baby glow and makes us feel happy.
During perimenopause, your ovaries aren't reliably stimulated to release an egg each month. That means that some months, you don't release an egg. No egg, no progesterone, although your adrenal glands do produce a very small amount. Less progesterone then results in unpleasant PMS symptoms such as heavy bleeding, weight gain, mood swings, irritability, and more.
Now let's talk about estrogen. At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, both estrogen and progesterone levels are low. The low levels stimulate the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and this, in turn, stimulates the ovaries to produce more estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the follicles to mature an egg for release and levels continue to rise until ovulation, then dip briefly, and then rise again until menses.
During perimenopause, the declining number and quality of follicles means that less estrogen and less progesterone is produced. Sometimes the pituitary gland will produce more FSH as an extra effort to nudge the ovaries, but of course, it's in vain. This is the time when hormone levels become erratic and periods become very irregular both in timing and in heaviness. We also experience more and more menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. Then finally, the ovaries aren't producing any estrogen or progesterone. At that point, the little estrogen circulating comes from our adrenal glands and fat stores.
Not every woman experiences hot flashes, but many do. Doctors are not sure what causes hot flashes since those who experience them have the same hormone levels...