Just how disruptive are hot flashes?

One minute you’re working, exercising or just relaxing. Then there’s this feeling of warmth, rising from the chest to the neck and face. All of a sudden, you’re blushing, and little pools of sweat form on your arms and hands.

You wait for the moment to subside, finding a tissue to wipe yourself dry or grabbing a bottle of water. And yeah, suddenly you’re chilly. Now what were you doing again?

Since last year, the options have grown for treating hot flashes, the name given by women undergoing menopause for those sudden and intense feelings of warmth as the body’s temperature rises.

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In June 2023, fezolinetant, prescribed under the name Veozah, was approved as a first in its class drug to alleviate moderate to severe hot flashes.

Dr. Tomas Luley

“I think it’s a wonderful addition to the options that we can now offer to women,” said Dr. Tomas Luley, a doctor of osteopathic medicine with Novant Health Southeast OB/GYN.

Luley, who is certified as a practitioner with The Menopause Society, shares his thoughts here on Veozah (pronounced vee-O-zah) and its potential to stem one of the most annoying symptoms of menopause, which can last years for some women.

What triggers hot flashes?

Hot flashes are a byproduct of the loss of estrogen and progesterone when your reproductive system stops releasing eggs and your monthly periods end. It is one of dozens of symptoms described by women, some who begin menopause as early as their 40s.

Women might experience hot flashes as they enter perimenopause, the time before menstrual periods end altogether. And research has shown that Black women can experience more severe symptoms earlier than others.

Called vasomotor symptoms, hot flashes often begin as a feeling of warmth in the upper part of the body. It could feel like blushing, but it lasts longer, with an aftermath that often feels like chills as the body temperature returns to normal.

Hot flashes can feel uncomfortable and can cause difficulties at work, anxiety and even daytime fatigue, women tell Luley. At bedtime, hot flashes can disrupt sleep in the form of night sweats. Vasomotor symptoms occur in up to 80% of women during menopause, lasting a mean of seven to nine years. In a third of those women, hot flashes could last more than 10 years.