This Is the Real Reason Behind Those Awful Hot Flashes

Are you destined to have hot flashes during menopause? A new study suggests that there's a simple way to tell.

The-Real-Reason-Behind-Your-Hot-Flashes-iStock/Minerva Studio

If you’ve ever wondered whether you’ll have hot flashes when you transition to menopause, your mother and grandmother may hold the answer.

In a new study, researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA examined data from over 17,000 women ages 50 to 79 around the country and found that there’s a genetic variation that increases the likelihood of experiencing hot flashes during perimenopause. “We hypothesized that variation in genes might be linked with higher risk of having hot flashes or night sweats,” lead study author Carolyn J. Crandell, MD, told about the study, which was published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society. “No prior studies had ever looked across the entire human genetic code to determine associations between genetic variations and the risk of having hot flashes or night sweats.”

The study links a higher risk of vascular motor symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, to a variation located on chromosome four.

Crandell cautions that more research is needed to confirm the results, but once confirmed, however, the information could have incredible implications for treatment. “We believe that a better understanding of the biology involved in hot flashes could lead to novel new therapies in the future,” Crandell has said.

Hot flashes are typically described as a feeling of sudden intense warmth, and can be accompanied by a flushed face and sweating. According to, more than two-thirds of women experience hot flashes during the time right before and during menopause, though what causes hot flashes exactly is unknown.

Treatments for menopause-related symptoms range from hormone therapy to complementary medicine treatments such as acupuncture. Although hormone therapy is currently considered the most effective treatment, other prescription medications such as Paxil, Prozac, Clonidine, and Gabapentin are also used to reduce the frequency of hot flash episodes. Non-medication treatment options include avoiding common triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, warm environments, cigarette smoke, and spicy foods.

Women suffering from these personal heat waves can prepare for the sudden feelings of feeling flushed by dressing in layers that can be easily removed to cool down, taking warm rather than hot baths or showers in the evening instead of in the morning, and exercising daily.

This study is an important step toward uncovering not only what causes this particularly distressing symptom of menopause, but how best to treat and prevent it.

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Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is a freelance writer who loves to help others through the written word. She writes about faith and motherhood at her site, and loves to inspire others through Instagram, where she can be found @jenbabakhan. You can also find her on Facebook @JenBabakhan, Writer.