I Have Hot Flashes! Should I Take Hormones?
by Rebecca Hulem, RN, RNP, CNM,
"The Menopause Expert"
Hormones, hormones, hormones. You can't live with them and you can't live without them… or can you?
These days you can't go near a woman's magazine, a newspaper or the evening news without encountering yet another alarming discussion or editorial regarding hormone therapy prescribed to women to relieve the bothersome symptoms of menopause. If you are anything like my patients, friends, colleagues, and family members, you have probably reached a highly informed state of … confusion.
Should you start taking hormones or stop taking them? If you start them, how long should you stay on them? Should you take synthetic or compounded hormones? How does your doctor or health care practitioner decide which one to prescribe? And what's the difference, anyway? And when you finally decide what to take, how do you decide what form to take it in---- a pill, a patch, a cream, a vaginal ring, or a lozenge? Is there a test you can take to figure it all out? And if there is, why hasn't someone offered it to you?
Who's driving this hormone bus anyway?
Should I Take Hormones?
So, how do you decide if you should take hormones to relieve Hot Flashes? Symptoms are the first thing to consider. Ask yourself the following:
- Am I having Hot Flashes that I can't live with another minute?
- Are my Hot Flashes so frequent and intense that they impact the quality of my day-to-day life?
- Am I having sleepless nights?
- Have I tried life style changes such as dressing in layers, deep breathing, and avoiding hot flash triggers like spicy foods or alcohol without any result?
If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, you may want to consider short-term hormone therapy. Symptoms--- not the prevention of health conditions that you don't yet have are the reason to consider hormones. Symptoms that include fuzzy thinking, mood swings, vaginal dryness, decreased libido and weight gain.
A Safe Alternative to Relieving Hot Flashes
Although many women may choose to take hormones to relieve bothersome hot flashes, there are just as many women for various reasons that will choose not to take hormones. For these women, I would like to suggest a wonderful, safe, fashionable alternative. Why not fan? Fanning has been around for centuries but for some reason in today's culture the "art of fanning" has been forgotten.
Using a fan to ward off a hot flash has many benefits.
- It is 100% safe.
- It really works. Fanning deflects the heat away from the body quickly with no "chilling" after effects.
- It is easy to use, with no complicated instructions to read, learn or remember!
- It doesn't require a visit or call to your health care provider and best of all no costly prescription.
Even though just about any piece of paper can be used as a fan i.e., a magazine, newspaper, or restaurant menu, why not be fashionable and carry around a small convenient fan in your purse? Flashin Fannye has created just that. Their fans aren't your usual design either. Flashin Fannye was created by two smart, savvy women, who for individual reasons of their own could not take hormones. Read about their story and shop online at their website at www.flashinfannye.com. They have created fans that are fun, fashionable and flirty to match just about every outfit and every occasion. Try the "Quest for the Zest" set which includes my book "Feelin" Hot? and the premier collection of 8 flashin fannyes; you will relieve your hot flashes, be part of this new fashion trend, and be happy that you did.
In closing I have two final suggestions when considering hormone therapy for the relief of hot flashes:
Discuss your individual health history and concerns regarding the risks and benefits of taking hormones with your health care practitioner before making a decision.
Take the lowest dose possible that relieves the hot flashes and other symptoms.
- Re-evaluate with your health care practitioner each year the benefits of continuing hormone use .
Every woman is unique. It is important to have your health care practitioner inform you of your individual risks. The ultimate goal is to live a long and healthy life. Taking hormones to relieve hot flashes and other bothersome symptoms brought on by the menopause transition, is a viable, safe option for some women.
Portions of this article have been excerpted from Rebecca's book "Feelin' Hot?"
Rebecca is an international speaker and author. She has over 30 years of experience working in the field of Women's Health as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife and certified menopause clinician.