Many of us have stopped to wonder: Can PMS cause hot flashes? Indeed it can — and it may worry you the first few times it happens. Rest assured, it's completely normal, especially if you're a woman going through perimenopause, the period in which a woman's ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. Perimenopause usually begins in a woman's 40s, but can start in her 30s or even earlier in many cases.
Take a look at the question we got from an anonymous reader who was worried about her hot flashes and noticing a pattern that aligned with her menstrual cycle.
"I’m 46 and I’m still having regular periods, but I recently started getting hot flashes. They occur a few days before my period, along with my other PMS symptoms. Is this normal?"
Can PMS cause hot flashes?
In a word, yes. In fact, this is actually extremely common. The hot flashes are caused by the sharp decline in estrogen and progesterone levels that occurs just before your period. Hot flashes before your period don’t necessarily mean you’re in perimenopause, but it is a sign that it may be approaching.
As you may know, hot flashes, caused by blood vessel dilation and the body's attempt to dissipate the heat and lower the temperature, are sudden feelings of warmth that are usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin might redden, as if you're blushing. Hot flashes can also cause sweating, and if you lose too much body heat, you might feel chilled afterward.
How to treat hot flashes during your period
A few “go-to” supplements for hot flashes are black cohosh and evening primrose oil, which can help ease symptoms in four weeks. You can also try eating more soy the week before your period to help balance estrogen and progesterone. And when you feel a hot flash coming on, try applying cool water, aloe vera gel or peppermint oil to your wrists and the back of your neck — strategies that many women find help relieve the discomfort. But if these menopause remedies don’t ease your hot flashes after two months, see your ob-gyn for more options.