what happens to my body during a hot flash

Hot flashes are the most frequent symptom of menopause and perimenopause. More than two-thirds of North American women who are heading into menopause have hot flashes. They also affect women who start menopause after chemotherapy or surgery to remove their ovaries.

Some women are able to wait out hot flashes with no treatments. If they bother you, these tips may help:

Stay cool. At night, a “chill pillow” filled with water or other cooling material might help. Use fans during the day. Wear lightweight clothes with natural fibers such as cotton.
Try deep, slow abdominal breathing (6 to 8 breaths per minute). Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening, and at the onset of hot flashes.

Exercise daily. Walking, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all good choices.
See if botanicals and herbs bring relief. For instance, plant estrogens, found in soy products, may have weak estrogen-like effects that could cut hot flashes. Doctors recommend you get your soy from foods like tofu and edmame, not supplements. Some studies suggest black cohosh also may be helpful in the very short term (6 months or less). Botanicals and herbs may have side effects or interact with other medications, so ask your doctor first.