I’m no hipster, but irony has always been my friend. Even my menopausal hot flashes found a way to be ironic! I suffered the most during the summer I did a student internship at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. I spent two or three afternoons every week in the stuffy, windowless library under artificial light going through box after box of adult movie promotional materials – cataloging and sorting. There were approximately 20,000 slides to view – and I can now truthfully say that while I have not “done it all,” I have certainly seen almost all. However, my hot flashes during that time were frequent, relentless, and intense. There I was, sorting orgy scenes from twosomes, and and putting Richard Pacheco in one stack and Nina Hartley in another, and getting soooo hot! But the fact that I had to continually fan myself while arranging slides on a light table had nothing to do with the images and everything with having reached a certain age. And I found this amusing in an anecdotal, ironic, pre-hipster sort of way.
Ah me – if I knew then what I know now! I was in training as a sexologist, and had not yet trained as a hypnotist. So I had no idea that I could have used the power of my imagination to coooool myself down, way down, relaxing, relaxing… breathing nice and slow, conjuring the memory of a dip in a cool lake, a dive beneath Pacific waves, the feeling of an ice cube sliding over skin… and that my hot flashes would have diminished through such intentionally designed neurosignatures and auto-suggestion.
Just last fall I became aware of peer-reviewed studies which support the use of self-hypnosis to relieve the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.
Baylor University’s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory studied 187 women who had at least seven hot flashes daily. The women in the hypnosis group reported an average of “74% fewer hot flashes” after five weekly hypnosis sessions, and twelve weeks of daily practice with a hypnosis CD. The comparision group only reported a 17% reduction. The reduction in hot flashes was based on self-reports of perceived hot flashes as well as physiological verification. The study was published online by Dr. Gary Elkins et. al. in Menopause, Oct. 22, 2012.
In 2008, Dr. Elkins et. al. did an earlier study which focused on breast cancer survivors who had been given drugs which cause an early menopause. “Randomized trial of a hypnosis intervention for treatment of hot flashes among breast cancer survivors” was published in the Journal of Oncology, Nov. 1, 2008. This study concluded “hypnosis appears to reduce perceived hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and may have additional benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep” (Abstract). The women who completed the study with five weekly sessions of hypnosis reported 68% reduction in hot flashes.
I know how miserable and uncomfortable hot flashes can be. They can disrupt your sleep, your social life, even your sex life – for months, if not years! Based on the above studies and my own knowledge of hypnosis, I have designed Hot Flash Self-Hypnosis, an online course for women who would like to learn self-hypnosis for this problem. You can find it at Creative Sexuality and access the tape of the first class at your convenience. The two-part class is only $25.