Page 1
Beauty Style Fitness Wellness Living #RealTalk #EmbraceYourAge
Stay up to date

Get on the List

Unlock our weekly newsletter packed with tips on living authentically, healthfully, and stylishly at every age.Get on the List: The best beauty, fashion, wellness and fitness tips straight to your inbox

Hot Flash Havoc With a Side of Chills

When your ovaries are still going strong and you’re dreading the onset of the Big M, you’re likely worrying about what exactly to expect. You’re probably full up on stories about hot flashes during perimenopause, but different women tell different tales — and there are plenty of nuances.

Some brush off hot flashes and chills as no big deal, just a warm feeling then a slight chill — nothing the crack of a window and a cardigan can’t handle. Others respond with an “OMG!” scream that their hot flashes come from the burning depths of hell, followed by an immediate arctic freeze. One minute they’re stripping off clothes, the next they’re pulling on sweaters and a scarf. Some are OK during the day but are constantly kicking off the comforter then piling on blankets as their temperature soars and dips during the night.

Ask a doctor what to expect and his or her noncommittal answer that “it depends” and “every woman is different” doesn’t exactly help. So what are these two most-talked-about symptoms of impending menopause going to really be like — and will there be any relief?

What Is a Hot Flash?

Brutally put, “[peri]menopause is your ovaries giving their last big gasp when estrogen is doing its erratic long goodbye,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of Body for Life for Women and bestseller Fight Fat After Forty, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and adjunct senior scientist at the National Institute of Health. “Your ovaries are producing less and less estrogen, and it’s extremely erratic. Some days the heat’s turned up. Some days it’s down. The power surges are all over the flippin’ place, and that’s what drives women crazy.”

Hot flashes are caused by rapid changes in temperature, and cortisol is the culprit. “Stress hormone cortisol is extremely important, working with estrogen to regulate the usual menstrual cycle. However, when its BFF estrogen is going haywire, cortisol is going to get crazy — and trust me, that’s when you have a problem. Because when you have a lot of stress hormone going on, you get pretty heated, and — I’m sorry to say — it feels terrible and awful.”

And it can, literally, be a night and day experience of extremes.

Why Do We Heat Up at Night?

You go to bed cozy in your comforter, then you’re furiously kicking off the sheets, throwing open the windows and turning on the AC, feeling like you’re in the tropics. The next minute, you’re slamming the windows shut, turning up the thermostat, pulling up your comforter, and piling more blankets onto the tundra of your bed. You might wake up chilly or hot and bothered, your sheets soaking, thinking you’ve wet the bed.

Welcome to your new nights.

Normally, throughout the day, cortisol’s journey takes the same course, peaking first thing in the morning. “It’s not your iPhone alarm that wakes you up — it’s the girl mob of cortisol and adrenaline synchronizing to start your day,” Peeke says. This is why most women feel more energetic in the morning. Then, gradually through the day, your cortisol level slowly starts to come down, dipping at around 3 p.m. “That’s ‘OMG! I need another latte’ time!” Peeke explains. Around 5 or 6 p.m., cortisol starts flattening out, going to its lowest level. Your temperature begins to fall, and your metabolism is at its lowest as your body is preparing to sleep.

Remember, that’s “normally.” When you hit perimenopause, cortisol starts to go off the tracks and off course.

“It’s cortisol and its bestie estrogen, again, up to no good,” says Peeke. “They normally cruise at a great low level in the night. But during [peri]menopause, they break curfew and start partying, just like when they play hooky from their day jobs causing hot flashes. When estrogen loses control and gets erratic in the night, that’s when cortisol buddies up with its BFF, heats you up, and makes you sweat.” A brief cold flash or even a big chill can then hit, because your body overcompensates.

Unfortunately, perimenopause symptoms are as unpredictable as a tornado’s twister funnel, and your fluctuating heat index of hot and cold flashes is impossible to forecast. Because, well, “it depends.”

Photo: Courtney K

You Might Also Like

Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal
Wellness

Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal

We at The Fine Line eat lots of oatmeal. Especially in the...

read
Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa
Living

Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa

Some might say bone broth is having a moment, but don’t tell...

read
6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber
Wellness

6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate that packs a powerful...

read
Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days
Fitness

Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days

In today’s “go big or go home” mentality, it is easy to...

read
7 Ways to Strengthen Bones Naturally
Wellness

7 Ways to Strengthen Bones Naturally

For many, bone density holds cause for concern: Osteoporosis is a diagnosis...

read
3 Foam Roller Exercises to Limber You Up
Wellness

3 Foam Roller Exercises to Limber You Up

Pretty much everyone can benefit from a few foam roller exercises, says...

read
Get Glowing With 8 Highlighters We Love
Beauty

Get Glowing With 8 Highlighters We Love

The solution to chronic fatigue requires a holistic deep dive into your...

read
Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal
Wellness

Eat This Now: Overnight Pumpkin Oatmeal

We at The Fine Line eat lots of oatmeal. Especially in the...

read
Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa
Living

Women Who Inspire: BRU Bone Broth Founder Soo-Ah Landa

Some might say bone broth is having a moment, but don’t tell...

read
‘Gilmore Girls’ and Me
#RealTalk

‘Gilmore Girls’ and Me

The seven-season series Gilmore Girls and its four afterglow episodes, A Year in the Life,...

read
6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber
Wellness

6 Good Reasons to Eat More Fiber

Fiber is the indigestible part of a carbohydrate that packs a powerful...

read
Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days
Fitness

Learn to Embrace Active Recovery Days

In today’s “go big or go home” mentality, it is easy to...

read
Give Yourself a Gray Hair Makeover
Beauty

Give Yourself a Gray Hair Makeover

As your hair’s pigment seemingly evaporates into thin air, you might notice...

read
7 Ways to Strengthen Bones Naturally
Wellness

7 Ways to Strengthen Bones Naturally

For many, bone density holds cause for concern: Osteoporosis is a diagnosis...

read
Beauty Buzzwords: Beta Hydroxy Acids
Beauty

Beauty Buzzwords: Beta Hydroxy Acids

When you were younger, your skin functioned more nimbly. It produced loads...

read
9 Little Black Dresses That Work Around the Clock
Style

9 Little Black Dresses That Work Around the Clock

We’ve been contemplating the idea of a uniform. These little black dresses...

read
Digital Fitness: Yay or Nay?
Fitness

Digital Fitness: Yay or Nay?

The music’s pumping, the sweat is dripping, and the high-energy instructor is...

read
Why I Hold On Tight to Old Friends
#RealTalk

Why I Hold On Tight to Old Friends

One of the biggest arguments I ever had with my father was...

read
Office Hours: What Should I Wear on a Job Interview?
Living

Office Hours: What Should I Wear on a Job Interview?

Welcome to Office Hours, where each month a Fairygodboss expert answers a question from...

read
Women Who Inspire: Beauty Industry Titan Bobbi Brown
Living

Women Who Inspire: Beauty Industry Titan Bobbi Brown

When makeup artist Bobbi Brown created 10 simple brown-based lipsticks at her...

read
The ‘I Am’ Project Showcases Ageless Beauty
#RealTalk

The ‘I Am’ Project Showcases Ageless Beauty

Angelika Buettner is on a crusade to celebrate the natural beauty of...

read
11 Water Bottles We’re Thirsty For
Fitness

11 Water Bottles We’re Thirsty For

Above the political din, the conversation about saving the planet rises. Innovative...

read
My Second Awkward Stage
#RealTalk

My Second Awkward Stage

A couple of weeks ago, I took my eldest son and my...

read
3 Foam Roller Exercises to Limber You Up
Wellness

3 Foam Roller Exercises to Limber You Up

Pretty much everyone can benefit from a few foam roller exercises, says...

read
Every Little Reason to Use a Foam Roller
Wellness

Every Little Reason to Use a Foam Roller

If you experience stress or regularly exercise, your muscles will thank you...

read
‘Aging Isn’t for Wimps’ and Other Quotes From Our Readers
#RealTalk

‘Aging Isn’t for Wimps’ and Other Quotes From Our Readers

We asked our Facebook followers what part of aging has surprised them...

read
Beauty Buzzwords: Vitamin E
Beauty

Beauty Buzzwords: Vitamin E

We’re always on the lookout for products that multitask, so if an...

read
Road Test: Elle Macpherson’s SUPER ELIXIR Greens
Beauty

Road Test: Elle Macpherson’s SUPER ELIXIR Greens

I was preparing to write this story when I met a long-time...

read
Women Who Inspire: The F-Factor Diet Founder Tanya Zuckerbrot
Wellness

Women Who Inspire: The F-Factor Diet Founder Tanya Zuckerbrot

Food was always an important part of Tanya Zuckerbrot’s life growing up,...

read
8 Red Lipsticks for a Luscious Pucker
Beauty

8 Red Lipsticks for a Luscious Pucker

Think you can’t rock red lipstick in your 40s and beyond? Think...

read
Load More
share
To Top