Menopause: Making it the Best Years of Your Life (cont.)

The other thing is doing whatever you can to keep your environment cool. That's not always possible, I know, but if you can do small things like keep a thermal pitcher on your desk with cold water, or one of those cooling scarves they have -- the ones you put in the fridge and they stay cool for hours -- putting this on the back of your neck or on your wrist when you get the flash can bring the heat down immediately and make you feel a lot more comfortable.

What did you find out about diet and hot flashes -- the foods you eat affecting how you feel? Are there certain foods we should be eating or others we should be avoiding?

Everybody is a little different in terms of how they react to foods but in general there are some "rules" that can help. The first thing is to avoid spicy foods or very hot foods, in terms of the temperature of the food itself -- like hot soup or hot coffee. The same way it "warms you up" in the winter on a cold chilly night, it will "warm" you and bring on a flash. You should also avoid stimulating foods like caffeine, or high sugary foods which can also increase hot flashes in some women. And sometimes a very icy cold drink can do it.

One of the best things I teach women to do in my book is to keep a hot flash diary for about a week or so. Write down every time you have a hot flash, and write down what you were wearing, eating and drinking right before. In about a week or so you may see a pattern starting to emerge and you'll know what your personal hot flash triggers are.

Can eating
soy help with menopause symptoms?

Soy is considered a phytoestrogen, which means it is a plant source of estrogen that is very weak -- much weaker than what your body produces. That said, it can have some of the same impacts of estrogen. So when your estrogen levels are dropping -- or as I like to say jumping around doing the tango, going up and down -- then yes, soy may have some beneficial effects. The thing you have to remember though, about soy, or any natural treatment is that if it's strong enough to have a pharmacological effect, it's strong enough to have a negative effect as well, and there can be too much of a good thing. The key is to use dietary soy, which is very hard to "overdose" on, and can provide benefits without many of the potential side effects.

Most of what I eat is ice cold by the time that I actually get to eat. I start off with hot coffee and end up drinking it cold anyways. In the cooler months I'm not so anal about cold drinks, but in the summer and warmer months I wish that I owned stock in an ice company. I'd be rich now. Does my body temperature actually go up when this happens or do I just feel hot?

No, your body temperature actually does go up, but it's momentary. What actually happens in a hot flash is your body's temperature-regulating mechanism gets a faulty signal. Your body actually thinks you are cold, so it sends a signal to that effect. But moments later your body corrects itself; it's kind of like "Oops, she's not hot, cool her down." So it sends another message to dilate the blood vessels and let the heat out. It is actually that "release of heat" that you are feeling as the flush. So when you are flushing your body temperature isn't going up; it's your body releasing the heat. This is why sometimes some women get a cold chill following a hot flash, because it's a rapid release of body heat.

Night sweats are hitting me every night. Is that a normal progression?

Unfortunately it is normal. Actually, a night sweat is really a hot flash that occurs in your sleep. So the same way you are getting these hot flashes during the day, you are getting them at night as well.

One of the things about night sweats is that they also disturb your sleep. There is actually a mechanism that can disrupt the deeper sleep that we need to feel rested, which is one reason you can feel so exhausted all the time during menopause. The quality of your sleep is not as good as it was in the past. In this respect, what you wear to bed, particularly avoiding nylon night gowns and pj's can make a very big difference.

The Japanese believe that if your head is cool during the night your body temperature remains more regulated. So if night sweats are a real problem then you might want to invest in one of those cooling pillows. You fill them with water and they stay cool for many hours and absorb some of the heat from your head. And they can help you get a deeper and more restful night's sleep.

I was always told that as well. Keep your head and feet cool.

Where can I find that pillow?

There are several different types out there, but one that I have used and found to be very effective is called the "Chillow". I believe you can do an online search and find it in a few places including There are various prices so shop around, and you should be able to locate it online if you do a search under "chillow."

"First, bioidentical hormones are not natural hormones; they are made in a lab just like traditional HRT and they are synthetic."

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