Hot Flashes Had their Physiologic Origins as Extra Heat For the Newborn Babies

Do you have hot flashes? If so we’d like you to come and discuss as there are some very interesting new studies that can help design more effective therapies for this. While many women can just tolerate, even fairly severe hot flashes, they shouldn’t have to. Exactly the cause we aren’t really sure yet. While the anthropologists are telling us that hot flashes have been around since cave times, they aren’t necessarily good in our modern society as they have been linked with stroke, cardiovascular disease, dementia and even earlier death!

Anthropologists now think hot flashes in women were beneficial to society in prehistoric times. Yet hot flashes are clearly not healthy for a modern woman. Hot flashes disturb sleep and can even cause sleep apnea. White spots that appear in the brains of aging women are more common with diseases like diabetes and hypertension, but occur in menopause. It’s these spots that can lead to more thought disruption in older women. Menopausal hot flashes can be so miserable, and so harmful to health, yet are so universal, it’s always perplexed gynos as to why they exist. The numbers of serious medical consequences: more cognitive impairment, more heart disease, less sleep, more depression, and other unwanted consequences of hot flashes have belied the thinking that these hot flashes could be beneficial for women.

Were they just the obvious signal to males of paleolithic times that this woman was no longer fertile? Since few women lived to the age of menopause until the 20th century, it’s hard to figure that this was the ‘societal reason’ that favored the survival of women with hot flashes.

Two anthropologists at the University of Mass have come up with their own theory about hot flashes in menopause. They have postulated that low estrogen post delivery triggers these heat surges that would warm newborn babies in their mother’s embrace. Many studies do document that at least 10% of women after birth complain of hot flashes, and at least a third complain of night hot flashes. In these studies the results were actually enough confusing to make us think we need to evaluate this further. Women don’t really have extra hot flashes while holding the infant to breastfeed; and women are not accurate when reporting a hot flash has occurred with respect to when their skin temperature elevates during hot flashes. So for now, womenshealthpractice.com focus on minimizing the ill effects for their patients and working on newer theories regarding hot flashes. If you would like to join a clinical trial call 217-356-3736!

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Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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