If you want to reduce the likelihood of hot flashes, consider managing your stress level. Research shows that women with moderate anxiety were nearly three times more likely to report hot flashes compared with women who had normal levels of anxiety, even after adjusting for other factors like depression, smoking, and body mass index.
If managing stress and avoiding other triggers (like alcohol and spicy food) doesn’t seem to be reducing hot flashes, there are other things you can try. Hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) is the most effective treatment, but some medications are used off-label to treat flashes. For example, about 50 percent of women who are on certain antidepressants (e.g., Venlafaxine, Paroxetine, Fluoxetine) enjoy a reduction in hot flashes, although the medical community doesn’t fully understand why. Gabapentin (an anti-seizure/pain management medication) and Clonidine (an antihypertensive medication) also seem to reduce hot flashes.
Some of my patients have used non-prescription products like Relizen and Femarelle (available only online) with some success, but remember that’s anecdotal evidence. We don’t have a lot of data on the effectiveness of herbal or over-the-counter products.
Talk with your healthcare provider, who can help you decide which option is best for you.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.