I’m having hot flashes. Does it mean I’m starting menopause?

by Rachel Burt, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at Roswell OB/GYN…………………………………

We all know hot flashes and night sweats are very common symptoms of menopause.  But, a new study by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) suggests many young premenopausal women have hot flashes too.  I often have women in the thirties and forties complain of night sweats or hot flashes.  Typically, they come to our office concerned their hot flashes are a sign of early menopause.  In some cases, premature menopause is the culprit of the internal thermoregulation changes.  However, other times it may be completely unrelated to menopause.

The new study released by NAMS found 55 percent of women age 45 to 56 years old with regular menstrual cycles reported night sweats or hot flashes.  Asian and Hispanic women were less likely to report symptoms, while Native Americans and black women were the most likely to report hot flashes.  Women reporting hot flashes were more likely to be taking soy supplements than those not reporting hot flashes.

There are some common reasons for hot flashes or night sweats in young women.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, try to track when they occur in your cycle.  We have a drop in estrogen levels a few days prior to our periods.  It is common to have hot flashes those few days before you start bleeding.  Women on birth control pills often have hot flashes the week of their placebo pills.  The active pills in the birth control pack have estrogen whereas the placebos do not.  During the placebo week, some women experience hot flashes as a response to the estrogen withdrawal.  The hot flashes should resolve once you start back on the active pills. It is also very common to have night sweats in the postpartum period.  The hormone fluctuations after delivering a baby may cause night sweats that resolve with time.

If you are having night sweats or hot flashes, I recommend you speak with your healthcare provider.  Often these symptoms are normal, but your provider may decide to draw some blood work to confirm.

If you have any questions, please contact your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment at 770 751 3600 or online athttps://secure.awhg.org/rosobgyn/