Hot flushes and hormone therapy
Many tāne on hormone therapy experience hot flushes, and they are a normal and common side effect.
Cooling down hot flushes
While hot flushes can be frustrating and uncomfortable, there are several things you can do to cool down. Making changes to your daily lifestyle as well as exploring which medications can help is key.
Also, talk to your doctor, care team or hauora provider so that they can recommend helpful lifestyle changes and medications.
Some of the best things you can do to improve hot flushes include cutting back on alcohol, caffeine and smoking. In fact, try to stop smoking altogether. You can find resources online to help you quit. You can also ask your doctor, care team or hauora provider for help.
Some other things you can try:
Keep physically active and maintain a healthy diet.
Cut back on spicy foods.
Go for a lukewarm bath or shower, rather than hot.
Drink plenty of water and fluids to stay hydrated and cool.
Keep your bedroom at a cool and comfortable temperature. If things get too hot, try keeping a fan nearby. Use light cotton sheets and wear cotton clothes to sleep in. These help absorb sweat and should be easy to clean.
Lay a cotton towel on top of your sheets to absorb sweat. This helps avoid washing your sheets too often.
Keeping a diary that tracks when your hot flushes happen and how long they last will be helpful. Track this activity for a few weeks, then speak to your doctor about your lifestyle changes and medications to see if they’re helping.
Several medications may help relieve the problems hot flushes cause - including how often you get them.
Your doctor may suggest you take:
venlafaxine (Efexor-XR, Enlafax XR, Arrow-venlafaxine XR) or sertraline (Zoloft, Setrona, Arrow-sertraline) — antidepressants that can be used for mild hot flushes.
gabapentin (Neurontin, Nupentin, Apo-gabapentin)
Megestrol (Megace), medroxyprogesterone (Provera) or cyproterone (Androcur) are rarely used to treat hot flashes, but you may have heard about them.
Not every medication will be right for every person, so your doctor will need to discuss your options with you. You should especially inform your doctor if you have a history of heart disease, strokes, liver problems or high blood pressure.
While medicines and lifestyle changes are good options, some tāne have found success with 'complementary therapies'. These therapies work alongside other treatments and include things like:
acupuncture (inserting thin needles into the skin, which might increase energy levels)
hypnotherapy (a therapist relaxes you with their voice and may put you in a trance)
cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT - incorporating positive thoughts and beliefs to change unhelpful behaviours)
herbal remedies (using plants, herbs, oils and tea to improve your problems)
rongoā Māori healers
It is important to remember that some herbal remedies may change the way medications act work in your tinana, so speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any additional supplements.
These complementary therapies may not be widely recommended by doctors and not everything is known about how useful they may be. Before trying a complementary therapy, please talk to your doctor about your options.