Menopause Tech Tools: New Ways to Manage Hot Flashes
Menopause has its ups and downs — one minute you’re cold, and the next minute? Holy hotness, you’re the hottest hot thing a hot person could ever imagine being (hot). Many doctors recommend lifestyle changes, like exercising, losing weight, and eating a healthy diet to reduce the symptoms.
“For about 60 to 80 percent of women, lifestyle modifications are adequate,” JoAnn Pinkerton, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia Health System and the executive director of the North American Menopause Society, told HealthCentral in a phone interview. “But others need to take another step.”
There are also some effective hormonal or non-hormonal pharmaceutical options, but many women want to try to control the symptoms naturally before starting a new medication. Besides, with the amount of innovation taking place in the world right now (hello, self-driving cars), someone must be able to come up with a product that provides relief from hot flashes, right?
Six products to fight hot flashes
Well, it turns out that hot flash technology is indeed coming along, and there are several new products on the market to help you cool down. One of them might just be the right thing for you.
1. Mono Pod
This cute little device costs just over $100 and looks like a wireless computer mouse that you can carry in your purse. When you feel the holy hot state coming on, place it on the back of your neck, where your brain senses and regulates body temperature, to feel cooler right away.
These pretty beads are just what they sound like — cold, gel-filled beads you can wear. Choose any $85 necklace or $55 bracelet you like, put it in the freezer, transfer it to an insulated travel pouch, and when you feel the heat, snap them on for relief.
3. Chili Pad
What do you do when the hotness comes in the middle of the night? Chili Pad has got you. This more expensive option provides a mattress pad with cooling and heating temperature controls. You can customize and change your side of the bed without disturbing your partner’s sleep.
4. Embr Wave
This $300 device looks a bit like a smartwatch, but it sits on the inside of your wrist and acts as a personal thermostat. Whenever you’re feeling too hot or cold, press and hold the light bar to increase or decrease your temperature. It will trigger your body’s natural response to temperature change, helping you feel cooler or warmer in minutes.
While this free app won’t actually cool you down, it can help you and your doctor identify patterns and triggers.
“I usually have my patients keep a hot flash diary,” Chrisandra Shufelt, M.D., director of the Women’s Hormone and Menopause Program, and the associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai, said in a phone call with HealthCentral. “So I can get an idea of how many hot flashes they are having and when they happen. Do they happen during the day? Or are they clustering around certain things they're doing? Are they having a cup of coffee in the morning and then an hour later a series of hot flashes?”
Some say a fan is the best treatment for a hot flash, and now you can get tiny ones that plug into your phone for just a few dollars.
“I like to recommend a good old-fashioned fan,” Dr. Shufelt said. “I was talking to a patient and she had a hot flash. She brought out a fan and plugged it into her phone. I commented that it was hip and pretty and she said, ‘Oh, I have one in every single color in every single purse.’ I think women manage to find the right things that work for them.”
Stress reduction can help hot flashes, too
Beyond lifestyle changes and these fun products, stress reduction has been shown to reduce menopause symptoms.
“I do discuss other techniques to avoid hot flashes or to treat hot flashes that include meditation and deep breathing,” Dr. Shufelt said. “Whether it's acupuncture, whether it's cognitive behavioral therapy, I think it all works.”
Dr. Pinkerton agrees in the power of stress reduction and recommends focusing on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness techniques.
“In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical hypnosis have been shown to be effective,” Dr. Pinkerton said. “Recently, mindfulness-based stress reduction has been shown to reduce the severity of hot flushes, and this doesn't necessarily mean going and finding a counselor for cognitive behavioral therapy or the mindfulness-based stress reduction. It might be using an app that can help.”