Are Premenopausal "Cold Flashes" a Real Thing?

Are Premenopausal "Cold Flashes" a Real Thing?

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on December 05, 2016


Q: LONG BEFORE MENOPAUSAL HOT FLASHES BEGAN, I HAD “COLD FLASHES” BEFORE BED OR AT NIGHT. IS THIS A REAL THING — PERHAPS PART OF SOME LARGER INABILITY OF THE BODY TO REGULATE TEMPERATURE BEFORE MENOPAUSE?

A: Yes, cold flashes are real. While your circadian rhythm normally makes you feel a bit cooler at night, cold flashes can be a manifestation of temperature instability — a common occurrence for women at midlife.

What’s happening? With fluctuating hormones, your brain’s internal thermostat becomes more sensitive. This means you may notice feeling either hot or cold.

If you’re troubled by cold flashes:

  • Wear socks to bed to keep your feet warm
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Participate in regular exercise (both weight-bearing and aerobic)

Hormonal and nonhormonal options are also available to help with temperature instability. Talk to your women’s health specialist to discuss options that may be right for you.

— Holly L. Thacker, MD

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Thacker is also the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. Her special interests and areas of research include menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health.


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