Focus on Women’s Health

Tips on managing hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia

With a nationwide shortage of some forms of HRT, especially transdermal Oestradiol gels and sprays, women going through the perimenopause and menopause are becoming anxious about managing their symptoms. Alternative forms of HRT are available which are equally effective, speak to your GP / menopause provider to discuss, these include oestradiol patches of different strengths and new bioidentical tablets.

Sometimes hot flushes are triggered by foods, stress, deadlines to keep, running late and other situations which increase stress. Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, smoking and spicy foods are known triggers so avoid them. Knowing that you might get a flush and that “it will pass” is a very helpful and powerful thought. It is important to know that no one actually notices you are having a ‘Flushing ‘episode, so don’t be embarrassed.

One of the important tools to help women manage hot flushes is behaviour therapy – a way of identifying how your health affects your beliefs, causing distress and anxieties and how to change these distressing thoughts and behaviour. Try imagining a distressing thought in a cartoon speech bubble, it immediately reduces the threat of the anxious thought. Breathing exercises where you breathe in through the nose and breathe out slowly through pursed lips also helps with relaxation. Try to take a step back from intense work pressures and deadlines, delegate jobs and communicate with colleagues, it helps you cope better at work and makes you less frustrated.

Develop a good sleeping pattern, wind down before bed and go to bed when you have finished using all electronic media. Associate the bed with sleep only, not for reading or watching electronic media. Avoid large meals and vigorous activities before sleep. Occasional sleep disturbance does not cause any ill health. Practice breathing techniques after night sweats and let all anxious thoughts pass through without interacting with them, a bit like a random train passing through a station. Try not to nap if you feel tired during the daytime. Avoid anxious thoughts of tiredness if you have not slept well the previous night, you will sleep better the following night.

Use ‘Thought Challenging’ techniques to de-stress. Imagine yourself as a calm friend to other women undergoing similar symptoms like yourself, how would you speak to them to help them? Now use the same technique for yourself and see the reduction in stress.

Use imagination to visualise a place that you feel happy in. Imagine the colours, smells, sounds, the breeze, name this special place and stay in this place as long as you can, the more you are able to do this, the more the reduction in stress and anxiety that you feel.

All of the above techniques need practice, like trying on a new pair of very nice shoes, eventually you will master them and be able to enjoy the benefits of behavioural therapy.

Please contact the surgery to discuss any health concerns.

Dr Suparna Behura
GP, Menopause Services Provider

Monday-Friday – 8.00am-6.30pm
Tel – 01926 857331
www.castlemedicalcentre.co.uk
Facebook – @CastleMedKenilworth
Twitter – @Castle_Med
22 Bertie Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1JP