Many reproductive hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, play an important part in a woman’s overall physiology. It usually isn’t until the early to mid 40’s in a woman’s life that these depleting hormones and their importance becomes more noticeable. As the body tries to cope with this time of transition, women will encounter some obvious symptoms that are generally unpleasant. One of these symptoms is Vasomotor Symptoms (VMS), also referred to as hot flashes.
When one experiences a hot flash episode they will feel a mild to extreme sense of heat that can make the face , neck, and chest areas flush as well as increase the rate of the heart. Sweating excessively can also occur with a hot flash episode. In older women, hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. However, a number of conditions can cause hot flashes in younger women as well.
Premature Ovarian Failure – When a woman’s ovaries start to not function normally before the age of 40, it is referred to as premature ovarian failure. An ovary that is not functioning as it should, will fail to produce enough of the estrogen hormone. . A malfunctioning ovary will also not be able to produce egg. Along with infertility, this can cause several other symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, vaginal dryness, missed periods, a decreased sex drive, trouble concentrating, and hot flashes. There are a few abnormalities that will cause the ovaries to fail in this way. Exposure to toxins, chromosomal defects, chemotherapy, and other radiation therapies are but a few of the things that can cause premature ovarian failure. There are treatments for premature ovarian failure such as the use of vitamin D and calcium supplements, and hormonal replacement therapy.
High Estrogen Levels – The ovaries will release an egg approximately every 28 days in a normal reproductive cycle. Estrogen levels will rise as the egg awaits fertilization. In cases where the egg is not fertilized, the estrogen levels will gradually normalize and be brought back into balance with another hormone called progesterone. There are some occasions when the ovaries do not release an egg at all in a reproductive cycle. When this happens, it causes the estrogen levels to stay high for a longer period of time. As a result one may experience dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
Because of the abnormal vaginal bleeding, one can experience late periods, heavier periods, or spotting between periods. Alongside the symptom of abnormal bleeding one may experience excessive body hair growth, vaginal dryness, moodiness, and hot flashes. The risk of developing anemia and fatigue can also result from the increased blood loss. When a hormonal imbalance is the cause of dysfunctional uterine bleeding, it can be treated through the use of intrauterine devices or birth control, both of which help to regulate the hormones. In a woman who wishes to conceive, the use of medicines which work to stimulate ovulation can be used. Those who experience anemia as a result of dysfunctional uterine bleeding will be prescribed iron supplements as well.
Panic Attacks – a panic attack is an episode that causes feelings of dread and intense fear which have no known cause or trigger. These episodes can occur quite suddenly and produce a variety of physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, shaking, chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, increased sweating, a feeling of tingling and numbness in the extremities, and hot flashes. Four of these symptoms need to be present together in order for such episodes to be considered a panic attack. Those who experience panic attacks will usually go through a six to nine month plan of treatment that includes medication as well as therapy.