Feel like you’re spending more and more time burrowed in a jumper?
The weather’s not even being that unpredictable, but you alternate between feeling OK and then shivery or cold? Why can’t you just stay warm goddamnit?
Nope, it’s not chilly in here. It’s that hormone-packed body of yours sending your heating system all wonky. Or rather, your oestrogen-depleted body...
Suddenly feeling cold is the reverse of a hot flush. Why do we get cold flashes in perimenopause? As oestrogen levels start to drop, the hypothalamus (the part of your brain responsible for your body’s thermostat) starts having funny turns.
Your fluctuating hormones prompt it to tell your body that it’s overheating when it’s not. And brrrrrr – your body is freezing, seemingly without reason.
Cold flashes usually pass quickly, although some can last for up to 20 minutes. You may notice them more at night, as our bodies naturally cool down in preparation for sleep, and you’re less likely to be charging about generating body heat.
These chilly chapters may start in perimenopause and continue through the menopause.
They’re not as well known as their cousins, the hot flushes – and arguably not as unpleasant. But sweeping cold sensations can still be uncomfortable.
Here’s what you can do to manage your cold flushes and minimise their impact.
GET TRIGGER HAPPY
What’s sending your thermostat all over the place? (Apart from your hormones of course).
You might find that alcohol, caffeine, smoking and spicy foods set your shivers off. And when your body is battling with menopausal symptoms, these common culprits can force it to work even harder.
Try eliminating these things one at a time to see if it has an effect. Cutting out booze and caffeinated coffee before bed, and cigs and full-on vindaloos in general, will most likely help with a host of other perimenopausal bug bears too. Bonus.
Midlife hormone levels can pump up feelings of anxiety or panic. Mix these heightened emotions with stress, and it may be harder to regulate your heating system.
Find ways to relax and recharge. Make them a non-negotiable part of your day. Distract and calm your brain with meditation, gentle exercise, a good book or a chat with a friend. You deserve and need some ‘me time’.
CHOOSE YOUR WRAPPING
As with hot flushes, easy to remove layers work well when your temperature keeps dropping like a stone – and then popping back up again.
And did you know that clever scientists have developed clothes for the menopause – whether you’re hot or cold?
JIGGLE IT, JUST A LITTLE BIT
Might feel like the last thing you want to do when you feel like an icy wind is blowing down your back… but exercise is a really good idea during a cold flash.
Wiggle, jiggle, dance if you like. Get your blood flowing to your hands and feet to pull your temperature up again. It might not be as pleasant as a phone reminder, but it may be a good prompt to spontaneously weave more movement into your day.
SOCK IT TO ’EM
Now, if it’s the middle of the night, we appreciate you may not want to get up and start doing the Cha Cha Cha.
If your tootsies are colder than the North Sea at 3am, then it might be time to invest in a nice pair of bed socks. Nothing too thick, just warm enough to keep the chill off when you experience a cold front.
If all else fails, and your shivers are getting you down, then it might be time to talk to your GP about hormone replacement therapy, HRT.
This replaces the hormones your body is losing due to the menopause, helping reduce your symptoms. You can choose from tablets, patches and creams. Most women can take HRT but there are some risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
If you’re basking in your Hawaiian shirt you may be baffled to see that they are shivering.
Cold flashes may not make sense to you, but here’s how you can make them more bearable for them.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
In terms of helping herself, we’ve recommended they consider Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as this can be particularly helpful for people whose internal thermostats have gone wonky.
We’ve also suggested they invest in a good pair of bed socks if they are waking up with icebergs for feet in the night, and that they take time out to relax, as feelings of stress can trigger a cold flash.
BE A CONSIDERATE BED PARTNER
If you share a bed with someone who’s having cold flashes at night, we get it – it’s annoying for you. Covers on, covers off. All night long.
Talk about using two separate single duvets or even different beds if disruptions during the night are causing arguments during the day. Whatever you do, make sure it’s right for your relationship, and that you’re in 100% agreement.
HAND OVER CONTROL OF THE HEATING
Okay, so you may find yourself walking round the house in your undies clutching a battery-powered fan.
But allowing them to set the temperature to what they are most comfortable at can work wonders for cold flashes and daily harmony within the household. It’s not forever (and their happiness is worth the hyped-up heating bill.)
WRAP THEM UP
As with hot flushes, easy-to-remove layers work well when her temperature keeps dropping like a stone – and then popping back up again.
Regular exercise will get the blood pumping through their veins and heat them up a treat during the perimenopause and menopause.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
GO EASY ON TAKEAWAY FRIDAY
They might find that alcohol, caffeine, smoking and spicy foods sets their shivers off.
Banishing the booze and coffee before bed, and cigarettes and fiery vindaloos in general, will most likely help them with a host of other perimenopausal bug bears too. Bonus.
If you’re worried about feeling cold, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
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