Posts Tagged "hot flash"

Feeling anxious? It may be those hot flashes!

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in anxiety, hot flash | 15 comments

Researchers say that there may be a link between hot flashes and certain types of anxiety. In fact, hot flash symptoms — increased heart rate and feeling flushed — have been shown to mimic feelings associated with somatic anxiety, i.e. butterflies in the stomach and tension (as opposed to affective anxiety, which people feel panicked or afraid or nervous).

Importantly, data have shown that as much as 8 months before premenopausal women start experiencing or reporting hot flashes, their scores on an anxiety index are off the charts, which means that constant butterflies or tension may be predictive of the move into menopause. The reason this is important is that they may be steps you can take now to address symptoms as they start to emerge, yoga and deep breathing for example, which not surprisingly, are often recommended to address anxiety symptoms.

The latest bit of information to hit research circles involves a study of 80, healthy, well-functioning menopausal women who were asked to keep a daily diary on hot flashes or night sweats (defined as a feeling of warmth or heat accompanied by sweating, pressure or rapid heartbeat occurring while awake or during sleep). In the diary, participants were asked to record how often hot flashes occurred over a one-week period as well as their severity. They were also asked to rate any symptoms of anxiety based on how often they occurred.

The results?

Higher scores of anxiety related to tension and butterfly-like feelings but not to panic or nervousness were significantly associated with more severe and frequent hot flashes or night sweats, even when factors such as sleep quality, age and education levels, all which might affect anxiety levels, were factored in. Age in particular is important because hot flashes tend to wean through the menopause as women grown older.

The reason this preliminary research is important is that it is possible that anxiety that women experience during menopause is actually related to hot flashes, rather than a specific mood disorder. By shifting the viewpoint to the true culprit, healthcare practitioners and women alike, might be able to better diagnose and more appropriately address anxiety symptoms, rather than leaning towards prescription mood treatments that are uncalled for.

At the same time, more research is needed. This was a small group of healthy, white women who were asked to self-report hot flashes/night sweats and anxiety symptoms. Although most of the research on hot flashes does rely on self-report, objectivity can be lost. What’s more, because these women were psychologically healthy, it’s hard to apply any conclusions to older women who might be seeking assistance specifically for anxiety.

So, are you feeling anxious? Depending on your age and menopausal status, it might be a harbinger of the flash or due to the flash. Either way, it’s worth considering.

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One a day…takes the menopause away

Posted by on Jul 23, 2010 in menopause, women's health | 1 comment

Did you know that One-a-Day has a menopause formulation that theoretically reduces hot flashes, improves mood and addresses energy issues? Interestingly, if you compare it to One-a-Day for Women 50+, the ingredients and the amount of each vitamin and mineral are almost identical.

So, what makes the menopause formulation so much more effective for menopausal symptoms? Evidently, the addition of soy isoflavones, which, studies have shown, may help alleviate hot flashes or promote bone health. However, increasingly, researchers are focusing on S-equol, the compound in soy isoflavones that actually appears to make soy effective in addressing menopausal symptoms.  So, based on the evidence, it’s fairly unlikely that soy extract in a multivitamin is going to provide the relief you seek.

I’m not certain that their sponsored blog, Menopause Live, is going to either. Granted, sharing experiences via Menoplay (a video blog) is an empowering approach, but you have to wonder about the fact that the site reserves the right to edit the videos. Or the subtle implication that these women are not taking medications but rather, a vitamin everyday to cure what ails.

Look, I’m all for multivitamins and supplementation, physical activity, emotional support and sharing. But I don’t appreciate the veiled messaging or false claims that are not backed by research and data. I don’t like to be hyped, duped or taken advantage of. And I don’t support the idea of using women “just like you/me/them” to push product.

Do you really think that your symptoms are going to go away when you take a vitamin and push “play?”  Doubtful.

Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear.

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Wednesday Bubble: A Different Kind of Hot Flash. Guest Post by Erika Napoletano

Posted by on Jul 21, 2010 in emotions, Inspiration | 0 comments

Every now and then you run across an awesome woman who demonstrates what it means to have the guts to provoke, educate, humour and intrigue. That woman is Erika Napoletano, a self-described writer, disruptive presence and devils advocate.

This week’s Bubble takes a look at a different kind of hot flash and one that most of us should aspire to.

Thanks Erika…. love this post!

Liz came to me awhile back and asked me if I’d be interested in contributing a blog post for Flashfree. Still a few years from menopause, I wondered exactly what I had to add for her readers (aside from my semi-patented f-bombs and unfiltered look on anything and everything).

Then yesterday, I had a different kind of hot flash:

I don’t need.

And no, there’s not a word missing at the end of that sentence.

Being someone who’s in complete opposition to affirmative action and “up with woman” bullshit, it’s hard for me to write a “I’m an independent woman” piece. Hell, you won’t find one. But I came to an moment during one of my training rides yesterday that I simply don’t need.

There’s nothing in my life that I can’t get (or haven’t) for myself. I have wonderful people – friends, family, clients – who populate my world. My home is comfortable, my car runs. My boobs remain perky (albeit, there’s a little Better Living Through Chemistry involved in that one) and I can still fit into the same clothes year after year.

I kinda don’t need anything.

I’m finally at a place in my life where I can look at my wants with loving eyes. Googly eyes that would get a construction worker slapped.

With so much crap going on in the world around us, I’m exhausted with the political pissing and moaning and righteous indignation that populates modern media. When’s the last time you sat down and looked at your wants and needs and came to a definitive conclusion about where YOU stand? Maybe it’ll hit you when you’re on a bike ride. Maybe the frozen food section at the grocery is your Dawning Recognition destiny. But do you truly need? Or are you wrapped-up in wants disguised (and mistaken) as needs? I’m betting you’re all taken care of, and if you can embrace that like a huggy little bunny (one that doesn’t crap pellets, of course), it’s gonna be a pretty kickass day.

While it might not be much later in life that I join Liz’s club of real hot flashes, I’ll take these moments of dawning recognition over a screwed-up flow of hormones any day. And I fully expect that Liz will mock me and giggle the day I tell her that I’ve succumbed to The Change.

Kinda likin’ the changes I’ve found this week, though.

About the author: Erika Napoletano is an online strategist based in Denver, Colorado. As the Head Redhead at Redhead Writing, she serves up sound yet snark-laden advice on life’s successes and foibles, social media, SEO copywriting and business strategies. Follow her if you dare.

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Wednesday Bubble: Is S-equol the next big thing?

Posted by on Jul 14, 2010 in new approaches | 5 comments

Last year I wrote a few posts about the potential of the isoflavone S-equol for addressing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and mood swings.

If you are unfamiliar with S-equol, it is actually a metabolite of a one of the three soy isoflavone compounds (i.e. daidzein), and is produced by bacteria that live in the intestines. One of the most interesting things about S-equol is that is one of the principal types of isoflavones that are found in soybeans and most soy foods. However, up to 80% of the U.S. population and about half of the Japanese population (who consume inordinate amounts of soy) cannot manufacture S-equol on their own and need to obtain it in supplement form.

This month’s Journal of Nutrition has devoted an entire supplement to S-equol research, and I’ve been fortunate to take a more detailed look at the evidence supporting the role of S-equol for menopausal symptoms. Notably, some of the  researchers actually say that “to conduct menopausal medical care appropriately [which, in their opinion, should be geared towards a better quality of life on an individual basis), it is necessary to provide evidence-based alternative medicines as much as possible.” It is wonderfully refreshing to find such esteemed colleagues backing my view of how menopause should be approached.

Hence, without further ado, following is what you need to know about the recap of study findings, and what still needs to be explored before we all start taking S-Equol.

In three randomized studies conducted in pre-, peri- and menopausal Japanese women who were or were not able to produce S-equol naturally, researchers found specific benefits in three areas:

  • Mood improvement: 134 women who produced S-equol naturally and took a 10 mg daily S-equol supplement had significant reductions in anxiety; those who took 10 mg three times a day had significant declines in tension-anxiety and fatigue, and an increase in overall energy. Note that these women also limited their daily intake of soy products to no more than 20 mg/day.
  • Hot flashes and other symptoms: In 320 women taking 10 mg S-equol daily or placebo for 12 weeks, S-equol supplements reduced the frequency of hot flashes by as much as 58%. Decreases in muscle and neck stiffness were also reported.
  • Bone health: In 54 women who had undergone menopause within 5 years of the study, those who were able to produce S-equol naturally and took 75 mg  isoflavones daily supplement (mostly consisting of daidzein) lost a significantly lower percentage of bone in their hip area than women who were not able to produce S-equol naturally but also took the daily supplement. Researchers believe that S-equol actually mimics the action of estrogen in the body in terms of its ability to maintain bone mass and the balance between the build up of bone (bone formation) and the loss of bone (bone resorption). However, studies looking at how it acts in the body have only been conducted in mice and at relatively high doses. Information reported in the Journal supplement does show that at higher dosages, S-equol can negatively affect the tissues lining the uterus.

A few key take-away points to think about when we think about S-equol:

Researchers believe that the research in S-equol helps to show that soy isoflavones work best in individuals whose bodies are able to produce S-equol naturally. However, you’ve read the stats – the majority of people who live in the US do not produce S-equol naturally. Dosing and the exact type of S-equol may also influence outcomes. Likewise, They still aren’t sure how bacteria in the intestines influence S-equol’s effects and wonder if somehow, some other mechanism is at play. Further research is also needed to see if the beneficial effects of S-equol on menopausal symptoms can be extended to women who do not produce it naturally.

It’s too early to boost this bubble and I’m excited by this evidence-based alternative. Naysayers love to point out that alternative therapies are sham and snake oil. While this may be true of some preparations, it’s clear that researchers are taking natural substances to a higher level to see if they offer efficacy without the risks of hormone replacement.

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Not so hot? Actually…

Posted by on Apr 12, 2010 in hot flash | 2 comments

Have you heard of ‘Not so Hot?’ I may need to get my hands on one of these babies. Not So Hot is an aerodynamic ‘flash fan’ to cool those hot flashes in an instant. What I like about the design is that the fan is discrete and easy to carry in a purse or hand bag, whips out when you feel that flash coming on, and then folds away for the next one.

Obviously, the goal is to not have those flashes, but if you’re gonna have them, why not be prepared? Heck, the Not So Hot fans definitely appeal to me more than the Cleavage Coolers, which you may recall, remind me of rubber chickens for the menopausal set.

Have you tried ‘Not so Hot?’ What do you think?

[Disclosure – I have recently become a fan of ‘Not so Hot’ on Facebook. But I have not been approached nor paid to write about the product.]

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