Hysterectomy Hot Flashes Are Often the Butt of Jokes

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Hysterectomy

Women and hot flashes are often the butt of jokes but hot flashes are no laughing matter even if you are somewhat prepared for them. Often times after hysterectomy women experience the immediate onset of menopause and all of its symptoms. Faced with the sudden appearance of this inconvenient, somewhat mystifying and at times embarrassing symptom a woman may become depressed and frustrated. Just knowing that hot flashes are commonplace can help some women deal with them. There are also a few actions a woman can take which may help relief them.

The simple act of having a hysterectomy will not automatically cause hot flashes to happen. Hot flashes generally indicate the onset of menopause but there again having a hysterectomy does not automatically cause menopause to happen. In some hysterectomies only a woman’s uterus is removed. Theoretically if the ovaries are left intact menopause will begin at about the same time as it would have if there had been no hysterectomy; this is true even if only one ovary is spared. There are cases though when the signs of menopause show themselves even if the ovaries have not been taken out. Doctors theorize that this occurs because the blood flow to the ovaries may have been diminished in some way by the operation. Surgical menopause will be immediately induced if the ovaries are removed as part of the hysterectomy procedure.

Even medical professionals don’t know why natural menopause or surgical menopause causes hot flashes; obviously there is a connection between the diminished production of estrogen by the ovaries and the beginning of signs of menopause. However, the precise link between the specific symptom of a hot flash and decreased estrogen has not been determined. For some reason there is a momentary fluctuation in the part of the brain that regulates body temperature; when that happens a woman can feel as though she is almost feverish in what seems like seconds; this feeling usually lasts from three to thirty minutes. The hot flash may be accompanied by a red face or even red extremities, heat palpitations and drenching sweat. Sometimes a woman will wake up in the middle of the night with a severe hot flash accompanied by massive perspiration, this is called night sweat. All told, hot flashes generally occur off and on for anywhere from two months to two years.

Women find varying degrees of symptom relief from a wide variety of treatments. In the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was almost universally prescribed. Serious side effects from some forms of HRT have arisen though and many women opt for other approaches to battle hot flashes. For some women twenty minutes or more a day of cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking can be very helpful. Other women swear by herbal remedies such as black cohosh. Soy supplements may also alleviate the symptom as may B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Lowering the intake of caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol can also decrease many menopause symptoms. Women may also want to dress in layers so they can take off a piece or two of clothing when a hot flash rears its ugly head.

Without a doubt, hot flashes are one of the most annoying aspects both natural menopause and surgical menopause. Their sudden and sometimes very evident onset can be embarrassing and highly inconvenient. Take heart, however, most all women experience hot flashes at some time during their lives; eventually they will taper off and finally disappear altogether.

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