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Lifestyle Choices & Therapies

Suggestions to Help Ease or Limit Hot Flashes

  • Exercise: Hot flashes are probably caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes and drops in endogenous opioids (natural substances like morphine released by the central nervous system). Exercise is known to increase the body's opioid levels and reduce hot flashes. Regular moderate aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and breathing. Walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming are some examples of aerobic exercises. Flexibility and joint mobility can be improved with activities such as light weight training and yoga.
  • Keep a record or diary of your hot flashes to track when and what triggers them. Things such as too much sugar and/or starches, caffeine (coffee, tea, and soda), alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks or warm clothes may be triggers. But don't jump to any quick conclusions. You may have spicy foods two days in a row when you also have hot flashes, but they may not be related. So watch for recurring patterns and test the things you suspect.
  • Wear layers of clothing you can remove if you have a hot flash. Microfiber undergarments and clothing, such as Coolmax® or Capilene® are good choices since they wick moisture away from the body.
  • Keep your home and workplace cool.
  • Run cold water over your wrists or splash on your face to cool off. Take a cool shower.
  • When possible, avoid stressful or highly emotional situations. If you are stressed, try some relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, biofeedback, visualization, massage or a leisurely bath.
  • Try paced respiration (deep, slow abdominal breathing) when a hot flash is starting.
  • Research has suggested that antidepressants, such as venlafaxine (marketed as Effexor), can reduce hot flashes in women with a history of breast cancer or those reluctant to take hormonal treatment because of fear of breast cancer. Research continues with other non-hormonal medications that may help relieve hot flashes. Speak with your health care provider if you would like more information.

Suggestions to Help Ease Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances

  • Control where you sleep: darken the room, block out noise, keep the room cool.
  • Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day as much as possible to maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Get regular exercise. However, do not exercise before bed time, as too much activity late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep.
  • Use your bed for sleeping and lovemaking only – not as a place to work, eat or watch TV.
  • Avoid drinks and food with caffeine late in the day to keep from staying awake.

Helpful Personal Lubricants to Reduce Vaginal Dryness or Soreness

  • K-Y Jelly©: An all-purpose lubricant that is widely used and seems helpful if applied with a "medium" degree of thickness.
  • Astroglide©: An all-purpose, nonstaining, greaseless, odorless and tasteless lubricant without perfumes or dyes. It has an increased lubricant effect without becoming sticky or gritty.
  • Personal Lubricant©: Considered thinner than K-Y Jelly©. It is able to stay slippery longer without dissolving as fast.
  • Surgilube©: Considered thicker than K-Y Jelly© but may dry out too quickly for some.
  • Replens© and Gyne-Moistren© are examples of other lubricants suggested for use by health care providers.
  • Vaginal suppositories: Many post-menopausal women find these helpful. Remember that suppositories take time to melt in the vagina. Some also feel they provide "too much" lubrication. Examples include Lubrin© and Condommate©.
  • Human Saliva: This lubricant is readily available and often personally preferred.

Therapies to Treat Thinning Vaginal Walls
may also help with dryness

  • Try vitamin E orally and limit your dose to 400 IU per day. Besides taking vitamin E by mouth, you might try opening a capsule and applying the oil directly to vaginal tissues.
  • Drink at least 2 quarts of water or tea, preferably without caffeine, each day.
  • Always lubricate a dry vagina before having sexual relations to prevent further tissue irritation. Natural lubricants include such things as oil from a vitamin E capsule, cocoa butter, coconut oil and other fruit or vegetable oils such as almond or apricot. Avoid the use of oil-based products such as petroleum jelly or baby oil.
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