In perimenopause (early menopause), one of the most common symptoms you’re likely to experience is hot flashes. These are possibly the most readily recognizable symptoms in perimenopause, though it’s not really understood exactly why they occur. An estimated 85 percent of all women will experience hot flashes at some point in their life, either through natural menopause or surgically-induced menopause, or as the result of some types of illnesses.
Common symptoms. Hot flashes are characterized by a sudden feeling of intense heat, flushing, increased heart rate and sweating. Sweats can range anywhere from a little bit of moisture to complete drenching and may differ from one hot flash to the next. Even if you’ve been sitting still, you may instantly feel like you just ran a marathon. The severity will range widely from one person to the next and possibly from one hot flash to the next. These symptoms are generally followed by a chill as the hot flash wanes.
What to expect. These sudden changes in bodily temperature can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a major event that will disrupt your day. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hot flashes vary in frequency — you may have many in one day or just a few each week.” Most hot flashes only last for a few minutes.
Possible side effects. More severe hot flashes, especially for those who have multiple hot flashes per day, can lead to difficulty sleeping. In some cases, that may develop into chronic insomnia. Many women with severe hot flashes also suffer from depression and anxiety issues, though it’s not clear whether that is a result of perimenopause or if it’s the result of being unable to get sufficient high-quality sleep. If your symptoms are severe enough to cause these problems, consult a doctor for possible management options. Any symptoms that disrupt your daily life should not have to be tolerated, and treatment and small lifestyle changes may be very effective in reducing the symptoms to a more manageable level.