Hot flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms, are a common symptom of menopause, experienced by up to 80% of women. They can occur before, during, and even after menopause, in the phase known as perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause respectively.
A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat that usually starts in the face, neck, or chest before spreading throughout the body. The experience can also include redness (flushing), sweating, rapid heartbeat, and a cold chill after the hot flash.
Hot Flashes are related to changes in the body's heat regulation system, likely influenced by fluctuating hormone levels, specifically estrogen, during menopause. These fluctuations can impact the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling body temperature, triggering these symptoms.
Hot flashes vary in frequency and intensity among women. Some may have them multiple times a day while others may only have a few each week. The duration of hot flashes also varies from less than a minute to several minutes or even longer. Hot flashes can also disturb sleep (a symptom called night sweats), which may lead to mood changes and decreased quality of life due to fatigue and discomfort.