Suffering From Hot Flushes at 24. Is This Normal?

>> Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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Hello to you all. I hope you have all had a wonderful week do far. It is hard to believe that summer is half over now!

I have had a run of patients lately that are concerned because they feel an increase in their hot flashes/flushes this time of year. Of course, with the heat, this is common, especially among perimenopausal and menopausal patients. Those of you with other illnesses like diabetes, thyroid disorders and other chronic illness can have an increase amount of sweating and hot flashes. Also, some medications can even cause hot flashes and increased sweating.

That all seems natural, but what about those of you in your late teens, twenties and thirties who are nowhere near menopause? Many of you come in because you are experiencing hot flushes that come the week prior to and during your menstrual cycles. Is this normal or should you see your doctor to check for some other medical problem?

I can tell you that it is normal for women of any age, from early teens to late thirties, to experience hot flushes a week before and during their periods. They actually put a birth control pill on the market 15 years ago called Mircette, that was designed to address this problem. [Side note: The pill is designed to mimic our cycles with the rise and fall of hormones, but is balanced in a way to prevent ovulation of an egg.]

Mircette is a mono-phasic pill that has the same amounts of hormone in each tablet for 21 days, then starting with the 22nd day (which is day #1 of the last week in the package), normally all birth control pills in the last week are placebo (sugar pills) plus Mircette. Each pill in the last week also contains a low dose of estrogen to help prevent hot flushes. It is the sudden drop in estrogen during normal cycles and when taking birth control that causes these hot flushes. After our period ends the estrogen and hormone levels begin to rise again and hot flushes go away, and it all starts over again.

The same can be accomplished by giving women a low dose estrogen pill (0.3mg) or a low dose patch of the same strength. This can also help with dizziness, nausea, migraines, mood changes and breast tenderness. A woman's body is so sensitive to estrogen fluctuations and this is what causes the symptoms to come on.

So what does a hot flush feel like? First you feel flush, then a sensation of warmth crawls down your body. Soon you begin perspiring. Some women feel that the flushes begin in their face with perspiration running down their neck and gently moving to the chest and upper back, causing beads of sweat between the breasts. Most stop there. Only a few feel the flushes lower than the chest. Some young girls and women say that their skin can be cold from the outside temperature, while their internal body temperature feels hot.

So, the answer to the question, "Is it normal for me to have hot flushes around my period even though I'm only 24 years old?"… yes.

I hope that if you are having this problem that you will visit your doctor and let him/her know, so you can get relief and be evaluated for any other medical problems.

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