Showing posts with label Menopause. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Menopause. Show all posts

2014-01-15

Menopause: Panchakarma Chikitsa

Panchakarma (“five therapeutic actions”) chikitsa (“treatment”) are physical therapies that thoroughly cleanse and purify the physical and mental impurities from the body and mind. Normally the body has the innate ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials, including the vitiated doshas. However due to one's repeated dietary indiscretions, hormonal changes, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition, the digestive enzymes, metabolic co‑factors, hormones, and agnis which regulate the body's internal homeostasis become disorganized. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the physiology-resulting in disease.

Although most reasonable individuals recognize the value in maintaining a clean internal physiology, modern medicine has yet to accept this idea as a central tenet of healthcare and has therefore provided no practical guidance for detoxification therapies. The result is that few of us give the same care and attention to our internal organs and tissues that we confer on our vacuum cleaners or cars. However, recently more and more men and women are becoming aware of the dangers of living in environmentally toxic, over-populated, and over-stressed conditions.

The general purpose of the Panchakarma Therapies is to loosen, liquefy, and remove the vitiated substances and doshas from their abnormal sites in peripheral tissues via their natural pathways of elimination.
Unlike many health-promoting recommendations of Ayurveda, these are not self-administered therapies. These procedures must be administered by specially trained therapists in a definite sequence for a specified period of time. In addition, although Panchakarma is for the most part a delightful and comfortable spa-like therapy, there can be periods of discomfort associated with the profound release of toxins which does occur. It is therefore essential that the therapy be supervised by a knowledgeable expert who can recognize the signs of properly and improperly administered Panchakarma.

Panchakarma detoxification is perhaps the "missing link" to restoring optimum function of our cells and tissues in the postmenopausal years. Whether undertaken to prevent or treat disease, most women who avail themselves of authentic panchakarma chikitsa every two to three years will feel physically and mentally revitalized with a commensurate amelioration in many of the symptoms of menopause and premature aging. Following the physical panchakarma therapies, women are advised to take a special category of herbal preparations known as rasayanas, for several weeks or months. Rasayanas are tonic medicines which, when given to an individual who has undergone panchakarma cleansing, increase the strength, vitality, and function of all the tissues of the body.

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Menopause: Herbs that Heal

Triphala:  This blend of herbs is a powerful tonic for the digestive system. If you are feeling sluggish, dull or occasionally constipated, chances are that toxins are building up in your body. Toxins accumulate when your digestion — and elimination — are out of balance, which can lead to skin breakouts, menstrual cramps, fatigue, feelings of sadness and many other health issues. Triphala is the every-night, overnight detox and digestion balancer, supporting assimilation, balanced agni and ojas. 

Organic Amla Berry-According to the ancient Ayurveda , Amla has 20 times the Vitamin C content of an orange. Good nutrition requires a balance of the six Ayurvedic tastes — sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Amla is one of just a handful of herbs that contain five of the six taste categories — all except salty. Such balanced nutrition means that Amla helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Amla produces total health benefits. It helps strengthen the mind, eyes, heart, skin, and digestion; boosts cellular regeneration; and promotes a positive nitrogen balance for improved growth of muscle tissue.

Anti Kapha Herbs include bayberry, cayenne, cinnamon, guggul, motherwort ,mustard and myrrh.

Anti-Vata Herbs include ashwagandha, arjuna, astragalus, cardamom, comfrey root, garlic, ginseng, guggul, hawthorn berries, licorice, myrrh, rehmannia, sandalwood and zizphus.


Anti Pitta Herbs to be used include aloe vera, arjuna, barberry, golden seal, gotu kola, saffron, sandalwood and shatavari.

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Menopause: Basic Ayurvedic Fundamentals of Wellness

Three key principles to long-term balance and wellness in Ayurveda are broadly summed up in three lifestyle tactics:

Reducing ama (toxins)
Balancing/strengthening digestion (agni)
Significantly lowering stress
Each of these plays a powerful role in supporting long-term, life-changing wellness, according to Ayurveda.

To accomplish these goals, Ayurveda offers you lots of enjoyable options. Each of these choices has the power, in the Ayurvedic model, to gradually, naturally support and restore Ayurvedic balance in mind and body. These lifestyle choices include changes to diet; stress-reduction practices like yoga, exercise and meditation; and traditional Ayurvedic herbals, to name just a few.

Digestion is a central long-term, priority focus of Ayurveda. Great emphasis is placed on keeping digestion (agni) balanced. In this sense, ‘balance’ means functioning at its absolute optimum. That’s because digestion (agni) is the engine of transformation and assimilation. This transformation ‘engine’ isn’t found just in the stomach — it is found in every cell in the body. It is an extremely intelligent engine, too. It transforms and metabolizes food nutrients and food intelligence into you, and selects out that which isn’t useful to the body and mind. Depending on the strength of agni, the ‘transformation engine,’ either toxins (ama) or ojas (the beneficial biochemical of balance) will be created. Ojas is the finest and most-valued by-product of digestion in Ayurveda, supporting immunity, happiness, the feeling of connectivity (union or yoga) and emotional stability.

If you are prone to Pitta-based problems, such as hot flashes or excessive irritability, follow a Pitta-pacifying diet: avoid foods that are spicy, such as chilies, cayenne and black mustard seed. Salty foods and foods that are sour, such as yogurt (unless it is diluted and sweetened in a drink called lassi) and sour fruits such as ketchup, mustard, and other salad dressings and condiments made with vinegar should also be avoided.

Favor foods that are bitter, astringent and sweet, as these are cooling to Pitta dosha. Bitter and astringent foods include most vegetables. Sweet foods include rice, milk and cream, sweet lassi, and wheat products. Sweet, juicy fruits such as pears and plums also pacify Pitta dosha. Cook with Pitta-reducing spices, such as cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, fennel and small amounts of cumin seed.

If you experience Vata-related symptoms of menopause such as memory loss or vaginal dryness, you'll want to work at bringing Vata dosha back into balance. For this, you'll want to eat foods that are cooked, warm, and unctuous (meaning that they have a small amount of good fats such as ghee and olive oil). Eat foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as this balances Vata dosha.

Apana Vata, which governs the genito-urinary tract, elimination, and menstruation, is a key area to attend to when preparing for menopause. Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day. Eat plenty of cooked, leafy greens, as this helps elimination and is also a good source of calcium. For both Pitta and Vata imbalances, a breakfast of cooked apples and prunes and figs is a good way to start the day, as it balances the doshas and cleanses the digestion.

It is also important to keep your digestion strong and free of ama. Avoid eating foods that are packaged, processed, frozen, canned or left over. Eat organic foods that are cooked fresh each day. The bulk of your diet should consist of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes and light dairy products such as milk, lassi or paneer for protein. This type of light but nourishing diet will aid your digestion and avoid the build-up of ama. Avoid heavy foods such as meat, cheese, yogurt and frozen desserts like ice cream, especially at night.
  • Eat foods that are easy for the body to digest, suitable for your Ayurvedic body type and the season.
  • Eat the main meal at mid-day, when the digestive fire (agni) is strongest.
  • Favor fresh organic foods. Avoid leftovers.
  • Avoid cold or iced drinks with meals, as these decrease the digestive fire.
  • Increase intake of Vitamin D as this is an important for incorporating the calcium into the bones. Ayurveda advises 15 minutes of sun exposure daily to at least 15% of the skin area. This is equivalent to the face and arms. Postmenopausal women need about 400 to 600 IU daily; for those who are never in the sun, the larger dose (600 IU/day) is better.

A balanced and individualized diet is required to maintain the structural and functional integrity of the various bodily tissues. For example, the amino acids hydroxyproline and glycine are needed for collagen production, B12 is needed for nervous function and hemoglobin production, and hundreds of other examples exist. Osteoporosis risk, as we all know, can be averted by an adequate intake of calcium starting as a teenager. Along with adequate dietary protein, calcium builds bone density, mass, and tensile strength which peaks in the mid-20’s. This bone density then decreases by about 0.5% per year.

As women reach menopause it is still vitally important for there to be adequate calcium in the diet. It is recommended that postmenopausal women consume 1200 to 1500 milligrams of elemental calcium daily. The average American women aged 50-65 currently averages about 700 mg/day. Calcium is best obtained from low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) unless it cannot be tolerated for some reason. Although green leafy vegetables do contain some calcium, it is generally unrealistic to expect to get the full 1500 mg from that source alone. If sufficient calcium is not found in the diet, a calcium supplement is an excellent idea. Taking up to 1500 mg of calcium in the carbonate or citrate form in divided doses with meals will not increase the risk of kidney stones, but adequate water intake is certainly advised. Do not take calcium together with food containing high fiber or iron content.

Menopause As Per Ayurveda | Causes | Treatments | Herbal Remedies

Menopause is a normal part of a woman's natural aging process and occurs as hormone levels in the body decline. It marks the end of a woman's menstrual periods and her ability to become pregnant without assistance from technology. Menopause is a process that usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 and begins 2 to 5 years before (perimenopause) a woman's last menstrual period. It is considered complete (postmenopause) when 1 full year has passed without a menstrual period.

The symptoms of declining hormone levels can occur before menstrual periods have ended. This 2 to 5 year period of declining hormones is called the climacteric or perimenopause. Perimenopause can last several years and often includes irregular menstrual periods and other symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings.

What Causes Menopause?
Menopause is caused by the natural declining function of the ovaries, which gradually produce lower and lower levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This causes the total serum levels of these hormones to also decline in the woman's body. Decreasing levels of estrogen cause many of the long-term health problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease that can occur after menopause.

Menopause-Ayurveda Perspective
Menopause happens. It's a natural transition, says Ayurveda, and like all transitions, menopause has to be managed to minimize discomfort.

Since menopause is the transition from the Pitta phase of life to the Vata phase, if a woman already has a significant Pitta or Vata imbalance in the years before menopause, things are likely to get worse during menopause, which is a period when hormonal and other natural changes take place in the body.

Another factor leading to menopausal imbalances is the accumulation of digestive impurities (ama) in the physiology. Ama blocks the channels that transport nutrition to the cells and remove waste from the body, and thus contributes to menopausal problems.

A third factor is the misuse or overuse of the mind, body, emotions, or senses. Basically, this happens when a woman strains her mind too much, is under too much ongoing stress or pressure, or is doing work that is too "heavy" for her body, or is under tremendous emotional stress.

Menopausal Symptoms
Although some women have very few noticeable symptoms of menopause besides the cessation of her menstrual periods, most women will have some degree of other symptoms. Symptoms may come and go, and more may develop, over the course of the menopausal years. They include:
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal changes (atrophic vaginitis)
  • Difficulty concentrating/memory loss
  • Emotional changes (depression, anxiety)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia)
  • Changes in sexual desire (increased or decreased libido)
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat (heart palpitations)
  • Generalized itching
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Urinary changes (urinary frequency)

Vata-type Menopause
Symptoms – Nervousness, anxiety, panic, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of skin tone, feeling cold, irregular periods, insomnia, mild or variable hot flashes, constipation, palpitations, bloating and joints aches and pains.

Pitta-type Menopause
Symptoms - Prone to Hot Temper, anger, irritability, feeling hot, hot flashes, night sweats, heavy periods, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections, skin rashes and acne.

Kapha-type Menopause
Symptoms - Menopausal Weight Gain , sluggishness, lethargy, fluid retention, yeast infections, lazy, depressed, lacking motivation, slow digestion.

Diet can be a crucial tool in menopause management. 
Basic Ayurvedic Fundamentals of Wellness
Three key principles to long-term balance and wellness in Ayurveda are broadly summed up in three lifestyle tactics:

Reducing ama (toxins)
Balancing/strengthening digestion (agni)
Significantly lowering stress


Each of these plays a powerful role in supporting long-term, life-changing wellness, according to Ayurveda.
To accomplish these goals, Ayurveda offers you lots of enjoyable options. Click to Know More

Lifestyle tips for balance
Sleep is important for the woman entering menopause or going through menopause, because both Vata and Pitta imbalances can cause sleep problems that will only make menopausal imbalances worse. To keep both doshas in balance and to sleep more deeply at night, be sure you're in bed before 10: 00 p.m. and that you arise before 6: 00 a.m. This is the time of night when sleep comes easier and is more restful. If you stay awake past 10: 00, it will be harder to fall asleep, and you'll also increase any Pitta imbalance, because because 10: 00 p.m. to 2: 00 a.m. is the Pitta time of night, when the body needs to be at rest in order to cleanse and purify itself.  During this time a natural detoxification takes place.

The morning abhyanga or ayurvedic oil massage is extremely important for preventing menopausal problems.

Use the Youthful Skin Oil for Women. This oil is designed to increase circulation, calm Vata dosha, and provide needed moisture to the skin.

For both Pitta and Vata dosha, it's important not to skip meals, and to eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is the strongest. Try to eat at the same time every day, and go to bed and wake up at the same time.

Be sure to get lots of rest during your menstrual cycle as you approach menopause, because this will keep Apana Vata in balance and avoid the more serious complications of menopause.

Daily exercise (gentle for Vata and not too overheating for Pitta) is also important for keeping all doshas in balance. Exercise need not be a complicated or time consuming affair; it can be in the form of brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, aerobics, dancing, tennis, weight-training, rollerblading, ice-skating, or even gardening. Any activity which raises the heart rate and/or works against gravity can help maintain a healthy heart, skeleton, muscle tone, immune system, and body weight.

Exercise can promote more restful sleep, reduce depressive thoughts, retard osteoporosis, ameliorate hot flashes in some women, and improve cognitive function. The single, most important key is to develop an enjoyable, realistic exercise plan appropriate for your individual constitutional type, which is conducive to long-term compliance.

There are three general types of exercise and most women should try to incorporate examples of all three: (1) aerobic, (2) anaerobic (or weight-bearing), and (3) flexibility exercises. 

Weight Management
Obesity, or sthaulya, is a multifactorial complex of imbalances affecting both an individual’s physiology and psychology which results in an increase of body weight to more than 30 per cent above “normal”. This increase is due to the systemic accumulation of fat throughout the body.

Overweight and obesity are associated with virtually all of the most common diseases which have been on the rise over the past 50 years: type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease, polycystic ovary disease, hyperandrogenism, gallstones, osteoarthritis, infertility, fatigue, low back pain, shortness of breath, esophageal reflux, depression, colon cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.

Being overweight means you have developed an imbalance in one or more of these physiological enzyme/hormone pairs in the direction which favors energy storage. This unhealthy shift in one’s metabolism is known to accelerate during menopause. Simply losing weight will not correct this imbalance and the amount of weight loss will always be limited because the underlying problem has not been corrected.

Ayurveda offers a program which combines general principles of hygienic living with specific individualized constitutional guidelines. Overweight conditions are effectively addressed by understanding these conditions for what they truly are--an accumulated toxin with both physical and mental roots which are unique for each person. The molecular structure of human fat which deposits in different individuals may be identical, but the unhealthy habits, attitudes, misconceptions, and stored emotional experiences which promulgate obesity are unique and singular. These weight loss measures are presented succinctly in The Ayurvedic Approach To Diet and Weight Loss: The Sattva Program

Panchakarma Chikitsa
Panchakarma (“five therapeutic actions”) chikitsa (“treatment”) are physical therapies that thoroughly cleanse and purify the physical and mental impurities from the body and mind. Normally the body has the innate ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials, including the vitiated doshas. However due to one's repeated dietary indiscretions, hormonal changes, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition, the digestive enzymes, metabolic co‑factors, hormones, and agnis which regulate the body's internal homeostasis become disorganized. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the physiology-resulting in disease. Click to Know More

Herbs that heal
According to the ancient Ayurveda, the nature has some powerful herbs that helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Click to know more

Herbal Preparations
Ayurvedic preparations are completely different in their intention and their action. They are mixtures of natural substances which can correct an underlying imbalance. They promote an energetic adjustment which is at a level of intelligence higher than the molecular level. Reestablishing balance at this subtle energetic (i.e. doshic) level of human function removes the push at the physical (i.e. molecular) level toward discomfort and the symptoms are eliminated at their root. Click to know more on Herbal formulations that helps balance all three of the basic operating principles (doshas) of mind and body — Vata, Pitta and Kapha. 

Summary
Women around the world are now living approximately one third of their lives after they reach menopause. Every women can benefit during these years from a balanced diet tailored to her specific constitution, an appropriate form of regular exercise, intelligently selected plant-based Ayurvedic preparations, and additional dietary calcium and vitamin D. Most women will also derive great benefit from Panchakarma therapies followed by rasayana therapies every 2-3 years. Depending on one’s risk factors, women should have a Pap smear and mammogram every 1-2 years and check her thyroid function, lipid profile, and have a colonoscopy every 3-5 years. 

Menopause: Herbal Preparations | Herbal Formulas

Introduction
Ayurvedic preparations are completely different in their intention and their action. They are mixtures of natural substances which can correct an underlying imbalance. They promote an energetic adjustment which is at a level of intelligence higher than the molecular level. Reestablishing balance at this subtle energetic (i.e. doshic) level of human function removes the push at the physical (i.e. molecular) level toward discomfort and the symptoms are eliminated at their root.

Ayurvedic preparations are made from various materials in Nature: roots, rhizomes, seeds, flowers, stems, leaves, barks, minerals, resins, and even some metals.

Most Ayurvedic preparations are combinations of several different materials, sometimes up to fifty. Each root, leaf, or mineral component can be thought of as an “information bit” and when combined together form an “information bundle”. Applying the correct information bundle for your energetic imbalance in the proper dosage, at the right time, and for the correct duration, is the key to rebalancing your physiology. Although to accurately determine which herbal medicines are precisely indicated requires a full knowledge of both the patient and the condition (rogarogi pariksha), knowing a woman’s constitutional type (prakriti) allows us to choose some basic therapeutic materials. Many of the plants below contain one or more phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived substances whose chemical structure is similar to endogenous human estrogens. They are categorized into four main groups: isoflavones, lignans, coumestans, and resorcylic acid lactones (although the latter is not a true phytoestrogen). The formulas below can include all or some of the listed ingredients.

Herbal Formula For Vata Types
Ashoka (Saraca indica)
Lodhra (Symplocos racemosus)
Musta (Cyperus rotundus)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Sveta musali (Asparagus adscendens)
Nagbala (Grewia hirsuta)
Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Jiraka (Cuminum cyminum)
Bala (Sida cordifolia)
Vidari (Pueraria tuberosa)
Nilotpala (Nymphoae stellata)
Makaradwaja
Asparagus adscendens (Sveta musali)

Herbal Formula For Pitta Types
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Lodhra (Symplocos racemosus)
Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus)
Sveta musali Asparagus adscendens
Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris)
Ashoka (Saraca indica)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Brahmi (Bacopa Monniera)
Hibiscus rosa senesis
Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica)
Prisniparni (Uraria picta)
Rakta chandana (Pterocarpus santalinus)
Shivalingi (Byronopsis laciniosa)
Vanga Bhasma

Herbal Formula For Kapha Types
Ashoka (Saraca indica)
Musta (Cyperus rotundus)
Mahat Panchamula (the 5 large roots: bilva, agnimantha,synonaka, patala, kasmarya)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia)
Guggulu Commiphora mukul)
Shankhpushpi (Evolvulus alsinoides)
Satapushpi (Peucedanum graveolens)
Sweta Chandana (Santalum album)
Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi)
Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna)
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
Abhraka bhasma
Shilajitu


2014-01-14

Suggested Lifestyle Changes for Menopause Treatment

Mental attitude has a lot to do with how well a woman adjusts to menopause. If it is seen as a tragic end to youth, fertility and sexuality, it can cause significant disruptions in one's day-to-day life, and create the temptation to "solve" the problem with unproven therapies that promise eternal youth. If menopause is seen as simply the natural transition to the next phase of life, it can be readily accepted and more easily handled. The risks and benefits of estrogen replacement therapy should be carefully considered, and many women do quite well without any medical intervention for menopause treatment. Following an anti-inflammatory diet, getting adequate aerobic exercise, and relaxation practices can help address the many practical problems that menopause can bring. Menopause is not a disease, and there is no reason for it to decrease interest in or enjoyment of sex. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse more difficult, however, and an over-the-counter product such as Replens Vaginal Lotion, as well as lubricants such as Astroglide can help. Your doctor can also prescribe a topical estrogen cream which will restore normal vaginal tissue.

Nutrition and Supplements - Herbs for Menopause


Try the following natural remedies and herbs for menopause: 

Soy foods. The isoflavones in soy foods help balance hormone levels and have some estrogenic activity. There is ongoing research about the safety and efficacy of isolated soy isoflavone supplements. While the initial results look promising, we currently recommend using natural soy foods rather than supplements. Choose from tofu, soy milk, roasted soy nuts or tempeh.

Flaxseed. Substances called lignins in flaxseed are important modulators of hormone metabolism. Grind flaxseed daily in a coffee grinder at home and use 1 to 2 tablespoons a day.

Dong quai. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is known both in China and the West for its ability to support and maintain the natural balance of female hormones. It does not have estrogenic activity. This is one of the herbs for menopause that should not be taken if a woman is experiencing heavy bleeding.

Black cohosh (Cumicifuga racemosa). One of the best-studied traditional herbs for menopause, black cohosh is used to help alleviate some symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. Black cohosh seems to work by supporting and maintaining hormonal levels, which may lessen the severity of hot flashes. Many women report that the herb works well but it isn't effective for everyone. While any therapy that influences hormonal actions should be a concern, black cohosh does not appear to have estrogenic activity and thus may be safe for women with a personal or family history of breast cancer.

Vitamin E. A daily dose of 400 IUs of natural vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) can help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes in some menopausal women.

B vitamins. This group of water-soluble vitamins may help women deal with the stress of menopausal symptoms.

Evening primrose oil or black currant oil. These are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms.

Women Health: Menopause

Once women reach the menopause years, typically around the age of 50, a variety of physiological changes and menopause symptoms occur that can have a profound impact on their lives. Menopause is a term that refers to the end of menstruation, the result of the natural decline in the hormones (estrogen, progesterone and others) produced in the ovaries. After years of preparing and releasing eggs, the ovaries eventually reach a point where they end their monthly routine. As hormone levels decrease, a number of symptoms may emerge, although their presentation and severity varies greatly from woman to woman. The most common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, depression, insomnia, vaginal dryness, irritability, mood swings and headaches.

Most women report that they experience hot flashes during pre- and perimenopause. Hot flashes typically begin to occur when women start to have irregular periods, and usually end one or two years after menstruation has ceased. Sometimes women will experience flushing or warmth in their faces and upper bodies, others might actually have sweating and chills. Hot flashes can occur at any time of day or night. While it is not entirely clear what causes hot flashes, some researchers suggest it might have to do with mixed signals from the hypothalamus, a region in the brain that regulates body temperature and sex hormones. The hypothalamus may be reacting to decreasing levels of estrogen, and this may explain why hot flashes cease when estrogen replacement is given.

There are two tests that your doctor can perform that will determine if a woman is "officially" in menopause. One is to test the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level. This hormone increases significantly after the ovaries shut down. Another procedure is to take a Pap-like smear from the vaginal walls and check for any thinning and drying out of the vagina.