Ben Carson's Geezer Surgery (and More)
What Trumpcare Tells Us About Social Security

Hot Flashes and a Resistance Note

EDITORIAL NOTE: If you are a guy or a woman who's not interested in this topic, scroll down past it for today's Resistance Note.

At first I rejected this topic when a reader suggested it. Most women who read this blog are well past that annoying life event but “Jessie” kept pestering me so I looked into it. Surprise, surprise.

The most common age range, the experts tell us, that women experience the beginning of menopause is between 48 and 55. That it lasts up to ten years or so means a lot of TGB readers may be sweating through this week's east coast blizzard.

It shocked me at age 42 when the doctor told me my period was three weeks late because menopause had begun. My reaction was one part relief that I wasn't pregnant and one part, ”Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-t? At my age?”

Okay, I was a little young for it but obviously it's not something I could control so I moved on. We've discussed this before but “Jessie” said it was worth redoing, so here goes – on the menopause subtopic of hot flashes.


Here's a piece of useless information about it from medicinenet:

“About 40% to 85% of women experience hot flashes at some point in the menopausal transition.”

With a range 45 percent, that tells us nothing. And i'm probably not the person to consult. I know only three or four things – anecdotes, actually - about hot flashes that may or may not be widely pertinent:

  1. It is AMAZING that your body can go from dry to soaked in under a minute. That's impressive. It frequently happened as I was just finishing my makeup before work while also soaking my hair. So I began my morning routine all over again with the hair dryer.

  2. I learned to keep a beach towel in bed with me so that when night sweats woke me, soaking the sheets, I could roll over onto the towel and go back to sleep on a dry surface.

  3. My mother dyed about 10 pieces of lace, each to match the color of a sweatshirt. She sewed the lace pieces onto the shirts, an elegant solution which became my standard top under suit jackets for work so that when I broke out in a sweat, the shirts soaked it up without showing much. My mom could be quite clever sometimes.


During that period of hot flashes, I had a first appointment with a new gynecologist, a highly respected woman who also taught at the one of the top medical schools in New York City.

After the exam, she said she would prescribe HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to ease my hot flashes. I declined, citing a recent, widely-noted study about risks of various cancers connected with HRT.

The doctor argued with me, even raising her voice. I explained I didn't believe a few sudden sweat episodes were worth risking cancer. She argued. As I left her office, she said to me – I have never forgotten: “You'll be sorry when your face gets wrinkled before its time.”

So here I am decades later all wrinkly in the face and elsewhere but (knock wood) cancer free so far. It's a crap shoot what causes cancer in one person and not another but this a tradeoff I would make again in a – well, New York minute.


A lot of women complain about hot flashes but fewer are using HRT rhese days. And really – the hot flashes are only an inconvenience, not life-threatening and personally? I found them kind of funny.

The Mayo Clinic has a smart, easy section about hot flashes. (Hint: they don't mention the vinegar, secret herbs, teas, vitamins and supplement “cures” some people suggest.)

What's your experience?

* * *


(To catch up newcomers, Resistance Notes is an occasional section appended to the main story of the day to help keep track of what happens, these days, at such high speed in Washington. Even large news organizations are having trouble keeping pace so what's a little one-women website supposed to do?

The answer is now and then when the day's topic relates to ageing but I want to pass on some short, resistance-related information, I will post it here at the bottom of the main story. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.)

Today it is the most recent main video essay from John Oliver on his Saturday HBO program, Last Week Tonight, about the American Health Care Act (AHCA) this week.

Colbert doesn't hit a home run every week but it happens more often than not and when he does, it is magnificent. For me, it is a crime to wait seven days to show it to you as I usually do.

So here is the brilliant analysis of Trumpcare from John Oliver and his crew – serious and funny all at once, as they are so good at doing.


The hot flashes during the daytime were a minor inconvenience but the night sweats seriously interfered with sleeping. I went on HRT for that reason alone. None of the alternative remedies worked for me. When the night sweats finally ended, then there was the urinary incontinence. Vagifem worked for that. Well, maybe I'll end up with cancer, I don't know. Both my parents were dead by 79, I'm 69, so if I'm lucky the next 10 years will be moderately healthy. But something's going to get me sooner or later.

Love the John Oliver video! I wish it was required viewing for all Trump supporters.

Hot flashes? They are so far in my history, I really don't remember (or care) much about that era of my life expect that the emotional ups and downs was worse than the flashes. I didn't do replacement therapy either and thankfully didn't have a doctor like yours who tried to ram it down my throat. I never heard the wrinkle argument and I'm no more wrinkly than my peers.

I love John Oliver! Somehow he makes it less scary!

A letter to the editor in the Plain Dealer wrote about the almost simple solution to the HC act: just put everyone on Medicare.........treat all of us the same. It just needs a little tweaking & as Bernie kept & keeps saying, it would work for everyone. Washington is so well-versed in complicating everything.........guess that's called job security. Dee

No HRT here nor did I have severe hot flashes. Years after menopause, though, I did find myself having some hot flashes. My dr said it was quite common for that to happen for many years afterwards. My dr never offered anything for menopause but that may be because I never complained about it. I was too busy living my life to really notice.

She 70 still getting them day & night. Tried many OTC products. Now use OTC Esstroven daily. It seems to lessen the daytime ones a bit but around 4am always get a wake-up whopper. Thanks for the topic.

I have hot flashes, though not to sweating -- and I'm 80. I had only mild symptoms and resisted HRT. When they started again in my 70's I talked to my gynecologist about it. She said "we don't know why this happens in older women." Its a topic that might interest others who, like me, thought it was over. I wonder if there has been any research on this.

Fabulous John Oliver. My Republican representative is against the ACA now. It can happen. We have power. And it only takes 10 or 15 minutes a day to e-mail, call, send a letter, and all those other things I don't know and don't want to learn how to do. I feel truly sorry for so many who voted for Trump, desperate for a better hand.

The "dangerous" HRT is that nasty stuff made from horse urine that also contains progesterone.

If one has had a hysterectomy then a plant-based estrogen-only formula can be used and works just fine. Studies have failed to demonstrate a statistically significantly increase in cancer risk in women who go this route.

I hope one day all women will be better educated about this topic. All HRT is not created equal...everything is specific to your unique situation.

*(I am not a doctor so please discuss with yours, if you can find one who has taken time to school him or herself on this important topic.)

I meant to type "Progestin" instead of "Progesterone" above. Mea culpa!

My hot flashes didn't begin until after my breast cancer surgery, at which point my minimal HRT was stopped and drugs begun to suppress the remaining estrogen produced by my adrenals. (I'd been on HRT since a 1979 hysterectomy.) Fortunately no sweating, just very uncomfortable flushing and warmth for a few minutes (3-5 min., 6 or 7 times a day). No sleep disturbance. The biggest inconvenience is constantly putting on or taking off a sweater or wrap, since I also tend to feel chilled at times.

I loved seeing the "Power Surge" cartoon. That's what I've been encouraging my 4 daughters, ages 48 - 54, to think of hot flashes.

Menopause for me included serious power surges, day and night, which I just tolerated until they finally quit. It was so worth it to get rid of that monthy inconvenient mess. Freedom!

John Oliver nailed it again. I'd like to share it to my FB page for my adult friends but his salty language is saltier than usual. I guess I want to keep some respectability with my good Christian grandkids. My girls know my salty side already.

I was 48 when menopause hit, and the hot flashes also hit with a vengeance. However, I didn't resort to HR, though it was recommended; by that time, though, there was lots more research online, and I decided against it. Went through a few months of severe flashes, but then they disappeared -- except every year near the month I had stopped menstruating. I thought it was manageable. At 65, I now occasionally get a "stray" hot flash, but not on a regular, or frequent basis.

I did take birth control pills for ten years, before I opted for permanent sterilization. Didn't want kids. I've read pros and cons about the BP, but in my case, so far, no cancer -- though one of my younger sisters has had breast cancer. I'm just thankful that birth control was available to me, and I could make choices some past women didn't have regarding children.

Thanks for the Oliver video...which I already saw and shared via social media. I was also please last night to hear an ad for hormone replacement treatment for senior women on TV which actually recommended not taking it for very long. There is someone waking up to the problems it causes.

I had just started a new career when I went through menopause at the age of 50. Never expected to have any problems with it as I sailed through regular, pain-free periods, and 3 pregnancies with no problems....but my hot flashes, insomnia, and anxiety were so debilitating I gratefully started HRT. Every time I stopped the meds the symptoms would return, but when I retired at the age of 65 I was determined to get off HRT. I had been on a minimum dose after the large study revealed health problems in long-term users. I am now 77 and so far, so good. No cancer in parents, died at ages 83 and 94.

I never took birth control pills but my younger sister asked me for the birth control RX I had received from my OB/GYN (I had hoped to meet my husband on an R & R reunion when he was in Vietnam but that never happened). Several years later, maybe 5 (?) she developed fibroid tumors and had to have one ovary removed, and part of the other ovary and then had a hysterectomy several years later.

I had few and non-dramatic hot flashes during my transition, though a few dramatic ones hit at random intervals a good 10 years before serious pre-menopause began. The dramatic early hot flashes didn't involve sweating. Instead, I turned lobster red and threw off heat like a furnace.

When the actual event hit, the hot flashes were just little moments of warming remedied by removing a sweater. However, there were all sorts of other discomforts and worse, extreme emotional roller coaster rides. I would as skeptical of HRT as a first resort measure. When the perimenopause became serious I sought acupuncture and took the prescribed (ghastly) Chinese herbs for a year. It was expensive but effective, and I was free of symptoms for five years. When symptoms returned, our economic situation was different, so I used an herbal product called "Healthy Menopause Tonic," by HerbPharm, for six weeks at a time. That cleared up the symptoms for six months, then I would repeat the cycle until it was all over and no symptoms returned.

I am 62 and thought I had dodged the bullet. I am sorry to hear that hot flashes be be a part of my later years.

My dear mother-in-law was still taking Premarin at age 88, when uterine cancer was diagnosed. They took her off it the day she was diagnosed. The type of cancer she had is understood to be caused by estrogen exposure. She'd been on that drug for nearly 40 years. She had been a robust, active woman who loved life until after the hysterectomy, when she began to age dramatically. I say, explore all alternatives before taking Premarin.

Menopause is so far in my rear view mirror that I don't remember much about it. I did have hot flashes and some of the other symptoms as I recall, but 60+ hour workweeks were often normal back then. I just didn't have much time to think about it.

I was on birth control pills for 30 years and HRT for about 4 years after menopause began in my early 50s. As the evidence against HRT began to accumulate, I told my doctor that I wanted to stop and I did. In retrospect I probably should never have been on HRT since my mother died of breast cancer at 69. She had been taking Premarin for many years, but there wasn't as much knowledge then as there is now. So far, I seem to have emerged without serious repercussions, but I'm glad today's young women have more information and alternatives.

Still, even today no method is completely safe AND effective--including the barrier (diaphragm) method many of TGB's older female readers probably struggled with before The Pill came along. In tRrumpistan many women may not be able to afford advances in birth control technology, but like some misogynist senator suggested a few years ago, they can always place an aspirin between their knees!

At 72 I continue to take a low dose of estrogen and one of progesterone. Tried a couple times coming off HRT with annoying symptoms afterwards (greater sleep difficulty, irritability, general malaise). Have consulted with my female GYN who puts it in perspective by pointing out realistically it is still a very small cancer risk--and that her female physician friends say they will "die with a bottle of HRT in their fist"!

Love the John Oliver c
lip--and shared it. It's good education for wherever you are on the political spectrum.

Premarin is the one made from pregnant mare urine, some imported from countries that do not have the same prohibitions against animal farming cruelty that we have in the U.S. (although I suspect it quietly happens here too).

Ever since reading years ago about the horrendous conditions these horses are forced to live in, I could never in good conscience either take or recommend Premarin, notwithstanding the risk of uterine cancer it entails as well. I am still surprised at the number of people who do not know how Premarin is made. Just google...

Great blog. Loved John Oliver. I have a hot flashes story. A colleague and I were going through menopause at the same time. We were the oldest two in our work group. When one of us got hit with a hot flash we would sing, "We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave". We would crack up. It was our private joke.

I never really had what I would consider hot flashes. Over the period of a few years in my late 50's - early 60's, I would occasionally wake up feeling a little uncomfortably warm, but never sweating or flushed. And the warmth might have been as much due to my tendencies to pile up the covers in the cold months here. I now have a heated comforter that I use to preheat the bed on cold nights. When I leave forget to turn it off, or at least very low, even a low setting, I soon wake up uncomfortably warm.

The only thing I have to compare bad night sweats or hot flashes to is the night of my first child's birth nearly 44 years ago. He was born around 8p.m., and after all the post-delivery stuff that goes on, I finally fell asleep very late, only to awaken a couple of hours later drenched. Bedding and all clothing to be changed and I was always afraid that menopause might be like that. Thankfully, it was not, though it still was no stroll in the park.

I had a friend who was driving one of the early Volkswagen bugs one day. She had to pull off the road because she had a hot flash that steamed up all the windows.

She was still flashing in her 80s, though only mildly, as I am also at 82.

I think I understand "Trumpcare" a little better now.
You'll still be able to get your HRT meds, but it'll cost $4000 more unless you are billionaire who'll get over $100,000 back on his taxes every time he has a hot flash.

Before my hysterectomy at age 53, I was having hot flashes just about every two hours around the clock. I'd wake up burning up and splash cold water on my face and around my temples, on the back of my neck, and on my wrists. They wouldn't last nearly as long as the ones during the day when I couldn't do that. I was on HRT in Virginia, but my New Mexico doctor lobbied against it so I dropped it, and have never taken a hormone again since 1994.

I STILL have hot flashes at age 71 - not as frequent or as "severe"--if that's the right word--but I have them - usually one a night overnight. I've learned how to deal with them--cold water and patience. They are a part of my life and I just live with them.

Since taking Premarin was out of the question because of the cruelty it causes the mares that are used to produce it, I went to the chemical HRT and found it a life saver. I was not only having seriously disrupted sleep but was soaking my work suits during the day. I needed to function.
All worked out for me and after a hysterectomy, I did not need HRT. I will still get night sweats at 4:00 am, about 3 times a week, but that is no bother since I am retired and 70 years old.
HRT was a lifesaver for me, enabling me to work in circumstances that otherwise would have required me to quit.
Definitely as Dow Chemical used to say "Better Living Through Chemistry."

I have no idea how I'm going to survive Trumpcare. The premiums are nearly as much as I get from Social Security. So I can either eat and live in a house or I can buy my meds and live on the streets. He promised to leave SS and Medicare alone, but, like all the other promises he made, he lied. I voted for Clinton -- I find it hard to believe that 53% of the women who voted, voted for Trump. What were they thinking?

I had a lovely light lacy wooden fan that I carried everywhere with me and sprayed it with lavender every morning. Subways, meetings, that fan was my crutch. I kept my hair longish to soak up the sweat. But I truly sailed through meno at 54.

I am curious though as I've never seen this addressed anywhere. I'm 73 and still have a monthly cycle of high energy and slump and normal days.

Anyone else?


I started having hot flashes around age 42 or 43, am now 65 and still get them although not nearly as frequently. My mother continued to have them into her late 70's. Thanks mom.

This one now starting your journey through her 80's
went through the change in my 50's. No problem, I have 4 children
and never had hot flashes...

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