Researchers from a university in Pennsylvania have found that moderate to severe hot flashes can continue, on average, for nearly five years after menopause, and more than a third of women experience moderate/severe hot flashes for 10 years or more after menopause. Now that is a lot of heat to go around! Current guidelines recommend that hormone therapy, the primary medical treatment for hot flashes, not continue for more than 5 years. H
owever, in the new study, published online this week in the journal Menopause, the authors write that "empirical evidence supporting the recommended 3- to 5-year hormone therapy for management of hot flashes is lacking." What are Hot flashes exactly? Experts tell us that they are episodes of intense radiating heat experienced by many women around the time of menopause. They can result in discomfort, embarrassment, and disruption of sleep. Fluctuating hormone levels during menopause are believed to cause hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, anxiety, irritability, and joint and muscle pain. In hormone therapy, medications containing female hormones replace the ones the body stops making during menopause.
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is considered the most effective treatment for hot flashes, it is not appropriate for all women. In addition, concerns about health hazards linked to HRT have made some doctors less likely to prescribe it, or to adhere strictly to recommended duration guidelines. If you are experiencing hot flashes or night sweats, contact your doctor to see what kind of treatments might be appropriate to help ease the problem.