Who gets hot flash symptoms?
Key facts about menopause flushes
We're all different, but flashes are mysterious too...
Hot flash symptoms don't come in standard sizes.
Culture, language and personal factors all play a role.
LUCKY DIP - perimenopause hot flashes come in all shapes and sizes!
Hot flash symptoms depend on culture, environment and geography. Not all women get them. Not all women in all cultures get them. Some ethnic groups suffer more and some ethnic groups suffer less. And in some cultures nobody gets them!
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Studying menopause hot flashes in other cultures is complicated because of linguistic differences. For instance in Japan there is no precise word to designate the hot flush, even though the Japanese language allows for very fine discriminations between other body states.
There are no rules about who gets the worst hot flash symptoms. Keeping busy and being gainfully employed may distract from hot episodes but certainly won't stop them. The idea that only well-to-do, neurotic housewives with time on their hands get hot flashes is rubbish.
The hot flash has a history - at least since Victorian England - when it was known as a "hot bloom".
Hot flashes can be an embarrassing, tiresome, draining nuisance but are not dangerous and are never life-threatening.
Some women love their hot flash symptoms and feel in contact with their femininity, their earthliness and their power.
Some women are very bothered by their hot flashes and seek medical help to control them.
As far as we know there are no animals that get hot flashes although some animals - higher primates and whales for instance - do experience menopause.
If scientists understood why some women get worse hot flash symptoms and some women don't get them at all, they might be able to make some progress in reaching some effective therapies that don't cause harm.
What causes hot flash symptoms?
Mindfulness - a natural cure for hot flashes
So we women are a mysterious bunch!
Our hot flushes bemuse and confuse even the most illustrious doctors, not to mention all of us women around the world who experience them.
But hey, what's wrong with a bit of sweating even if it is for mysterious reasons? A recent study found that women tend to fear other people's negative reactions to their flushes rather than the hot sensation itself. But these fears are unfounded because other people don't feel negative about flushing women. The researchers emphasised the need to reduce the stigma and negative social meanings of hot flushes (Smith et al).
Perhaps we feel bad about our flushes because of the way the
menopausal woman is viewed in Western culture?
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Melby MK, Lock M, Kaufert P. Culture and symptom reporting at menopause. Hum.Reprod.Update. 2005 Oct;11(5):495-512.
NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on management of menopause-related symptoms. NIH Consens State Sci Statements. 2005 Mar 21;22(1):1-38.
Nelson HD. Menopause. Lancet. 2008 Mar 1;371(9614):760-770.
Regestein QR. Hot flashes, sleep, and mood. Menopause. 2010 Feb;17(1):16-18.
Sievert LL. Menopause: a biocultural perspective. Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2006.
Smith MJ. et al. Men and women's perceptions of hot flushes within social situations: Are menopausal women's negative beliefs valid? Maturitas 2011;69:57-62.
Sturdee DW. The menopausal hot flush--anything new? Maturitas. 2008 May 20;60(1):42-49.
Walker ML, Herndon JG. Menopause in nonhuman primates? Biol. Reprod.2008 Sep;79(3):398-406.
Republished January 2012.
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