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Menopausal hot-flushes - how hypnotherapy can help

A majority of women experience symptoms during the course of their menopause. Hot-flushes frequently coexist with episodes of sweating, tingling and heart palpitations. Some are able to dismiss them as mere “power surges”. However, many women find hot-flushes quite distressing, especially at night time. So, sleep disturbance and subsequent fatigue are common.

The exact mechanism for menopausal hot-flushes is unknown. Changes in hormone concentrations are thought to affect temperature stability somehow. We know that stress can occasionally act as a trigger. Undoubtedly, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is effective for many women. However, experts are increasingly reluctant to prescribe HRT on a long-term basis. In addition, some do not tolerate HRT well.

Does hypnotherapy help? We can answer this question with some certainty because a hot-flush possesses a distinct physiological signature. Electrical resistance in the skin characteristically drops during an attack as excess sweat is secreted. Researchers have used this phenomenon to accurately chart the frequency and severity of hot-flushes – because human memory is fallible.

One year ago, Gary Elkins published a study from Texas, which used this technique. He divided 187 severely affected women into two groups. One group received hypnotherapy, the remaining control group were taught “structured attention control” – another talking therapy. 

The difference in outcomes was striking. The hypnotherapy group reported a better than 50% reduction in both frequency and severity of hot-flush. Crucially, the skin electrical resistance data confirmed what was happening. In addition, both sleep and patient-satisfaction were improved in the hypnotherapy group.

Elkins modestly concluded “…clinical hypnosis reduced hot flashes in this study of post-menopausal women, though the mechanism of action is not yet understood.”

In summary, the hypnotherapeutic use of cooling imagery and relaxation really can help women with distressing menopausal hot-flushes.

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