Coping With Hot Flashes For Breast Cancer Survivors

The hormone-targeting therapies of breast cancer can cause your estrogen levels to drop dramatically and cause some patients to undergo premature menopause. Since you may not be able to use hormone replacement therapies (HRT) that increase estrogen, you may wonder how you can cope with the severe hot flashes that are often a side effect of treatment. This article will discuss three ways of dealing with them and lessening their frequency.

Natural Strategies

The first way to reduce severity and the number of hot flashes you have is to practice these health measures: engage in moderate exercise regularly, maintain a healthy body weight, and avoid smoking. Anxiety can bring hot flashes on, so you might want to try meditation or yoga to relax. Using a journal to note what you were doing when a hot flash occurs can help you to discover your personal triggers.

A high body core temperature can trigger a hot flash so you will want to:

  • Drink plenty of cold liquids,
  • Have a fan blowing on you while working or sleeping,
  • Take a cool shower near bedtime,
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes made from natural fibers,
  • Uncover your feet in bed.

Electroacupuncture and hot flashes

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, electroacupuncture may be very effective in reducing hot flashes for breast cancer survivors. This form of acupuncture is accomplished by embedding needles under the skin and delivering weak electrical currents at certain points in the nerves.

Many undergo premature menopause, but are unable to use hormone replacement therapies (HRT) that increase estrogen. Test subjects were given electro acupuncture treatments twice a week initially for two weeks and then given weekly treatments thereafter. Participants reported few if any side effects to this treatment, as well.

Medical Therapies

There are non-hormonal medications that are helpful. Clonidine has a blood vessel-dilating effect that can speed up heat release and reduce hot flashes. It can be taken as an oral medication or used in a weekly patch. Some SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) antidepressants such as venlafaxine or fluoxetine have been helpful to some women. Gabapentin, an anti-seizure drug that relaxes nerves, has also been used with mixed results.

While standard HRT may increase the morbidity of breast cancer, studies have not shown any significant findings that vaginal hormone therapies (VHT) increase it .

VHT can come in the form of suppositories, creams, or a estrogen-soft ring that is inserted like a diaphragm into the vagina. Since they increase estrogen levels only for a minimal duration, they are considered safe by many doctors at this time. Visit Women First OBGYN if you have any questions.