The Menopause Diaries #2: Hot Flashes

Hot flashes and night sweats might be the two commonly known symptoms of the menopause. In fact, they are related, as night sweats are nothing other than the nocturnal sister of hot flashes.

Imagine this: you sit at your desk, typing. You are relaxed and have been sitting for at least half an hour. No physical movement other than turning your head to look on the papers next to your keyboard and moving your hands to type and use the mouse. Then you feel it: a warmth rising from the pit of your stomach, from your toes, moving up towards your head, warming your arms, your legs, your body, everything. You feel… flushed. It’s the middle of winter and you take your jersey off, sitting their with your bare arms and wishing you can take off more of your clothes. Colleagues think you’re crazy, but you’re not. You are experiencing one of the symptoms of menopause.

This happens to me. I sit at my work and I feel the heat coming from everywhere, heating my body as if I have a fever. Taking off a cardigan doesn’t help. I think that even if I could take off all my clothes, it wouldn’t help either. Once I have a hot flash, it takes long before I start to feel normal again. Sometimes it lasts for an hour, sometimes as long as two hours. I don’t get the hot flashes only at my work. I ALWAYS have them in the morning, when I am getting ready for work. I have even changed my routine in the morning. Normally I showered, got dressed, blow dried my hair and then did my make-up before I went downstairs to get breakfast. Nowadays I shower and while naked, I blow dry my hair and do my make-up and only then I get dressed. I’m not as sweaty anymore as I was when I first got dressed, but I still feel flushed and hot.

I never know when these hot flashes will strike. I take homeopathic meds every morning in order to lessen the hot flashes. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Once I feel hot and flushed it’s terrible. I am getting used to the strange glances of people when I walk in our shopping center with bare arms, while everyone else has their winter coats on, or cardigans on a cool summer day. Sometimes when they look at me like that, I feel the urge to utter only one word: “Menopause.”

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I wish I could look this sexy when I have a hot flash! (Photo source)

Somehow I can handle the hot flashes better when I’m home than when I’m at my work. Not because I can take all my clothes off at home, but I think it’s because I’m more relaxed when I’m at home. And maybe because I’m less relaxed at my work, the hot flashes there are more intense than when I’m at home. And, I won’t be surprised when the clarification for this might lie in some of the other symptoms of (peri)menopause.

Night sweats are bad too. I sleep naked all through the year, but I still remember years where I slept with a pajama and socks in winter, because I was cold. I cannot do that anymore and haven’t done it for years. Since a couple of months I put my hair in a ponytail high on my head when I go to bed. If I don’t, it’s just too hot. The night sweats don’t wake me, but if I wake during the night (this definitely has to do with one of the other symptoms – sleep disorders), I feel the sweat on my body. Everywhere. When I get up in the morning, even my scalp is wet from sweating during the night.

For people who are always cold, being hot like this might sound like a luxury, but I can tell you, it’s not. I am a huge consumer of deodorant, always afraid someone might smell me because I sweat so much. I’m afraid people might think my hygiene is bad, where I know it’s not. Sometimes it irritates me so much when I’m all flushed and sweaty that I’m irritable and cannot handle any joking about the menopause very well. And, having a hot flash when we have temperatures of higher than 23 degrees Celsius? Terrible! Just terrible! Nowadays, I prefer any season to summer, even though I get hot flashes in those seasons too. But at least I cool down faster!

Hot flashes makes me feel sweaty and uncomfortable. Being nervous, make the hot flashes worse. I feel even hotter, sweatier, ‘flushier’. This has its influence on my sexuality. Master T knows what I am going through and with him I feel okay, even when I am experiencing a hot flash. But if we’re on our way to a date, I feel my confidence fading. I’m afraid I might smell, afraid I might freak the other person out, afraid that other symptoms such as vaginal dryness might rear its ugly head too! Thankfully, up to now none of my fears have materialized. Once we get to the date and I feel the mutual love and understanding, the nerves subside and somehow the hot flashes seem to disappear too. Even so, I can definitely do without the hot flashes and the feeling my confidence is fading.

© Rebel’s Notes

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The Menopause Diaries