by Janine Leghissa, Taleeta founder
One of the worst things about getting older? Menopause and perimenopause symptoms. Some women sail through easily while others struggle with hot flushes, night sweats, hormonal surges and more for years.
I was not one of those women. Oh, the hot flushes I suffered! They seemed to come and go with no way of predicting them. They’d leave me be for weeks, then I’d have seven in a day. It impacts so much: your friends, family, relationships, work, confidence. You feel stressed about attending parties or going out in case you get caught up in a sweat. Speaking of sweats — night sweats are the worst. I would wake up feeling like I’d had a bucket of water thrown at me.
I was really inspired last year when Imogen Crump honestly explained her hot flush during an interview on ABC News Breakfast. She was talking about the news of the day when she apologised for the hot flush and took a moment to cool down. She said it’s like ‘the furnace of the sun’ and I couldn’t agree more!
So I thought I’d share my story about the worst hot flush I had — and gather a few more too. Some are quite funny while others are a little sad. We live in an era where hot flushes are still taboo, so I hope that by talking about it, I can help change this just a little bit!
My story: pink satin and a hot flush at the races
I was heading to a boat party for Melbourne Cup day and wearing one of those satin dresses that were all the rage a few years ago. While waiting for the boat, I got the worst hot flush, and I was sweating terribly. And pink satin shows sweat—badly. Because I was sitting down at the boat terminal, the sweat stains were all along my upper thighs, and it looked like I wet myself.
The boat was coming soon so there was no time to go home and change. So I just hopped on the boat and did my best to dry myself off. Luckily the sweat dried up quickly on the warm day and I even came second in the Fashion on the Field competition on the day, ha.
More anonymous hot flush stories from Aussie women
I had the sweats at my own launch party
I foolishly decided to stage a big launch party for the grand opening of my recently relocated lifestyle shop on a warm February night. The dreaded hot flush hit me hard. All my friends, family and clients were crowding around to celebrate with me, and my publicist even invited a few journalists to interview me. I was sweating like a demon and carried my portable fan with me the whole night. My young PR girls giggled at me, but they’ll have their turn. I had no choice but to own it and carry on with the party.
Husband’s electric blanket disaster
One night I was feeling extra grumpy and sure enough, a hot flush came on me as I was getting in bed. Little did I know my husband had put the electric blanket on the highest setting so he’d be nice and warm when he got into bed! He certainly heard all about it. I was so irritable that it only took me a second to lose my temper. My tantrum ended with me putting my head out the window in the middle of winter. He knows now never to put the electric blanket on without checking on me first.
A mile high hot flush
The worst hot flush I had was on a flight to Bali. I could feel the heat start at my feet and gradually work its way up my body. As I felt hotter, I started panicking which didn’t help. I could only remove a cardigan, and ask the hostess for a bottle of water. I just had to sit it out, sweating terribly the whole time. I felt like every passenger was looking at me, and was so frazzled I could barely stop myself from crying. The last two hours of that flight took forever and the seat was drenched when I finally disembarked, I was so embarrassed.
Drinking and hot flushes don’t mix
Whenever I drink I get terrible hot flushes but sometimes I can’t resist a sneaky champagne. The worst thing is getting very blotchy and red around my neck and face. At my niece’s hen’s night I thought just one drink wouldn’t hurt. But sure enough, the heat began and my face looked like a tomato. I brought a scarf to hide my neck but my ketchup face was a dead giveaway. All I could do was apply more foundation to cover the redness but it just melted off my face, and I ended up leaving early. Now I’ve learned that I just can’t drink if I want to have a fun night out.
Book club hot flush
I was hosting a book club with my girlfriends, happily chatting about Lessons in Chemistry when I felt a hot flush coming on. I’d never had them during the day before, so I was really surprised. I was in the middle of speaking and my brain went totally blank and I felt like I’d stepped into an oven. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of women to have a hot flush with, they’d all been in the same boat before and they encouraged me to go put my face in the freezer for instant relief — it was a book club to remember and I gave everyone plenty of laughs!
Hot flush strikes at board meeting
I’m on the board of a private girls school and during a meeting I felt the hot flush symptoms arriving, and soon I was sweating like crazy. I had no choice but to excuse myself and went to the kitchen and lay on the granite floor to cool down. I was told that in my absence, one of the men commented that I was ‘oversharing’ for being honest about my symptoms. A few women on the board put him back in his place and told him off for being an arrogant jerk. They told him that if he wants to be supportive of women at an all-girls school he can start by educating himself about menopausal symptoms. He backed down right away, I’m told. So I’m glad my hot flush helped one man learn his lesson.
Getting the sweats at work
I felt so out of place at work, and I couldn’t tell my team of 20 somethings when I got a hot flush. I once had a full red faced hot flush at a work event. Everyone stared and said nothing and here’s me, bright red in the face and on fire. I just pretended like nothing was happening. I said nothing but felt so ashamed. Thank god I am now in a new job where it’s ok, there is empathy and I’m not embarrassed like I used to be.
One thing you can do to manage hot flushes?
Dress in breathable fabrics. Taleeta’s range is made from natural breathable fabrics like bamboo, cotton and linen that help you feel more comfortable when hot flushes strike. Bamboo is a moisture wicking fabric, meaning that it draws moisture and hot flush sweat away from your body which may help you feel more comfortable when the dreaded sweats strike. It’s useful to avoid fabrics that trap body heat like spandex, nylon and silk.
Other ways to help with hot flushes:
I’m not a doctor, so don’t consider this as medical advice, but these things helped me:
- Carrying a cooling pack or portable fan
- Dressing in layers to strip down when necessary
- Reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol in your diet
- Keeping a journal of hot flushes to identify any triggers like spicy food or coffee
- Wearing light breathable bed clothes
These days, there’s plenty of medications and herbal treatments that can help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flushes so I encourage you to see your doctor to learn what’s available nowadays.
Helpful resources on hot flushes and perimenopause
Australasian Menopause Society https://www.menopause.org.au/health-info/fact-sheets
We are not medical professionals. Taleeta does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice). Taleeta provides this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your healthcare provider.