Physiology

Hot Flash Physiology,
Theories & Research Data


Seven Hot Flash Facts

1) Intense heat is felt often throughout the body and usually includes sweating and flushed skin.

2) Other hot flash symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, nausea, and anxiety.

3) The typical hot flash lasts from 2 to 10 minutes.

4) Both peri-menopausal and menopausal women experience hot flashes.

5) 75-85% of menopausal women experience hot flashes.

6) Hot flashes can last from six months to 15 years or more. The duration and frequency are unpredictable.

7) 30% of women experiencing hot flashes have hot flashes for 10 years.


The Hypothalamus Regulates Body Heat

The hypothalamus is a gland or organ located in the brain just above the brain stem.  There is a debate about whether it is a gland or an organ, however, all research agrees that it works with the pituitary gland. An important role of the hypothalamus, is the regulation of heat within the body.

Graphic showing the hypothalamus organ located directly above the brain stem

Three Hypothalamus Hot Flash Theories

1) During menopause the level of estrogen appears to affect the temperature control mechanism of the hypothalamus and this may trigger a hot flash.

2) During menopause the change in estrogen levels may cause the hypothalamus to misfire or operate erratically. The lower levels of estrogen may cause the hypothalamus to sense that the body is overheating.

3) The hypothalamus sends a message to have all the superficial vessels constrict which sends all the heat internally. Therefore, it may be over reacting and sending a message to the body to cool down which may lead to sweating and flushing.


Non-Menopause Causes Of Hot Flashes

1) Medications (Cancer drugs, opioids, etc.)

2) Other Medications

3) Infections

4) Cancer

5) Diabetes

6) Panic Disorder

7) Obesity

8) Thyroid Disorders



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