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How to manage menopause symptoms in the heat

How to manage menopause symptoms in the heat

We’re all in for an uncomfortable time in the heat. But it can be even more difficult when you’re going through menopause.

Whether it’s cooling down or speaking up, here’s how to make things a little more manageable…

Summer menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms are different for everyone, so you might not experience some of these at all. But here are a few common ones that can be particularly difficult in summer:

  • Hot flushes: As if you need the extra heat! Hot flushes can make warm weather even more uncomfortable.
  • Disturbed sleep: Anxiety, night sweats, and needing the loo can all make it difficult to drop off. Add in a warm night and you may be even less likely to get a good night’s rest.
  • Anxiety: Did you know that anxiety can come hand in hand with hot weather? Heat-related rises in cortisol, the “stress hormone”, can induce physical symptoms that the brain associates with anxiety.¹

Tips for managing menopause in the heat

1. Wear light clothing

Layers are your friend here, since you don’t want to get too cold after the hot flush passes.

You might want to choose:

  • Light, breathable materials like cotton, linen, and silk
  • Items you can take off without a fuss
  • Looser fits to help your skin breathe and avoid sweat patches

You might want to avoid:

  • Long sleeves, high necks, or tight fits as your base layer
  • Bulky jewellery
  • Chunky boots and thick socks

But these aren’t rules – they may or may not work for you.

Don’t feel you have to change your style! It’s all about making small adjustments. Light skirts, jumpsuits, and wide-leg trousers can all help you stay cool on the bottom while you layer up on top.

2. Stay hydrated

Hot weather + hot flushes is a recipe for sweat. And that can lead to dehydration…

According to the NHS, we should drink 6-8 cups or glasses (1.5-2 litres) of fluid per day.² However, they recommended at least 2 litres per day during a heatwave.³

Invest in a large water bottle or a jug to make sure you’ve always got a cold drink. Bonus points for ice!

3. Take extra care when exercising

Hot flushes can also make you more prone to dehydration and overheating while you exercise.

Becoming too hot or dehydrated can cause heat illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which at their worst can be life-threatening.

Take regular breaks and drink plenty of cool fluids. Stop if you begin to feel ill and move to somewhere cooler.

4. Get friendly with decaf…

Caffeine has different effects on different people. Unfortunately, it’s a potential trigger for hot flushes.⁴

Some people also find that caffeine makes them more anxious, or at least causes physical symptoms that the brain associates with anxiety.

The energy boost may be helpful if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, but drinking caffeinated drinks too late could mean you struggle to drop off the next night. That’s not to say you should give it up completely, but it’s worth considering decaf before bed or if you’re prone to hot flushes.

5. …and make friends with fans

Given the temperature in the UK right now, you’re likely to have a fan anyway. But it’s a real must if you struggle with hot flushes.

  • Place a frozen water bottle or a bowl of ice in front of your fan for an extra blast of cold air.
  • Some fans have sleep timers: perfect if you get night sweats, but you don’t want to waste electricity.
  • Others have remote controls, meaning you won’t need to get out of bed and disrupt your rest (again).
  • It’s also worth buying a mini fan or two to pop in your handbag or have on hand at your desk.

6. Don’t suffer in silence

Research from the British Menopause Society found that 47% of women who needed to take a day off due to menopause symptoms say they wouldn’t tell their employer the real reason.⁵

Yet menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce.⁵

Speaking up at work

It may feel awkward or even frightening to talk about menopause at work. But, with the right support, your employer could make things a little easier for you.

Think about the symptoms you’re experiencing and how they affect you. Bring a list if this helps.

You might be able to discuss certain adjustments, like being provided a desk fan or taking time off for GP appointments, for example.

Speaking up at home

As close as you might be with your family, it can be frustrating to navigate these changes under one roof.

Try to be clear about how this is affecting you and what might help, whether that’s others taking on more responsibilities, or just a little extra patience and understanding. Writing a letter might be easier for some people.

Reassure your partner or children where you can, but speak honestly and don’t be afraid to set boundaries.

Keep the conversation going: they may have questions later, or you might run into moments where you need another chat.

Handpicked content: Having “the talk”: Top tips for discussing your menopause with loved ones

Finding a community

Even if your loved ones are doing their best to support you, it makes all the difference to have someone who’s going through or been through menopause themselves.

A chat with a friend, mum, sister, or partner who’s experienced menopause could help you feel a little less alone. Plus, everyone’s experience is different, so you might gain a new perspective.

Your community can be new, too! Look for meetup groups in your area or follow some influencers on social media.

The final say

Menopause isn’t always glamourous – especially not when it’s boiling outside.

But it can be a time to share new experiences and tune into your body. Why not listen to Ateh Jewel as she talks about “walking through menopause with pride and power”?