Hot flashes are never easy to treat, especially if you decide not to take estrogen and progesterone. And two recent possiblities for non-estrogen prescriptions failed to get FDA approval. Now a new study suggests that maybe all you need to do to lower hot flashes is just get hypnotized.
A study in the March 2013 issue of Menopause randomized 187 postmenopausal women with at least 7 hot flashes per day (≥ 50/week) to receive either 5 weekly sessions of clinical hypnosis or just structured attention control. The researchers compared the differences in hot flash frequency and hot flash score (calculated by multiplying the hot flash frequency x the severity), control and interference with sleep. They also compared the women’s satisfaction with treatment over 12 weeks.
Here’s what they found: The hypnosis group had a 74% reduction in hot flashes compared with a 15% reduction in the control group and a statistically significant improvement in their hot flash score (80% versus 15%). They women who received hypnosis also had statistically significantly better sleep and treatment satisfaction.
Each therapist was clinically trained in hypnosis and spent 45 minutes each session instructing them to be hypnotized and then teaching them how to do it themselves. The therapists gave the women therapeutic goals of reducing their hot flashes and increasing their sleep as well as suggestions to use for mental imagery for coolness, safe places and relaxation. The women were also given a CD so they could practice at home.
The control group was met with each week for 5 weeks and given encouragement and discussion, but they did not receive cooling imagery or hypnosis.
This is really great news for women because it means that with the right kind on training for a relatively short window of time, they can learn skills to alter the impact of very distressing things that likely will be of help for other issues beyond hot flashes. Certainly relaxation techniques are known to help in many areas of life. Now there is another alternative treatment for hot flashes that is not only effective, but safe and easy to use after a short window of training. This will be particularly welcomed for women with cancer who can’t take estrogen and who have to overcome other issues of treatment as well.
You can get a FREE sleep diary here to bring with you to see your doctor or to determine if your level of sleep is causing you problems.