What are hot flashes?

Many different symptoms can accompany the menopause transition, but hot flashes and night sweats (also called vasomotor symptoms) are often the most well-known. A hot flash isn’t just a feeling of heat, it’s a wave that envelops the body (typically around the neck and upper chest) and makes it warm to the touch. Night sweats are essentially hot flashes that happen while you’re sleeping. 

The mechanisms behind hot flash and night sweat symptoms aren’t fully understood, but we know estrogen plays a role in temperature regulation. This means that a significant drop in estrogen levels can lead to your brain thinking you’re too hot (when you’re not) and it needs to rapidly cool you down. Everyone may experience hot flashes slightly differently, but they can happen anywhere and can often be distressing and unpleasant.