Woman experiencing hort flash in summer weather.

Hot Flashes in the Summertime: How to Beat the Internal Heat

May 31, 2024

Some people love the hot summer weather. But for millions of women experiencing intense menopause symptoms, the combination of hot flashes and outdoor heat can be miserable. Fortunately, there are several strategies for finding comfort while managing menopause during the summer heat.

Menopause is a natural life change marking the end of reproductive years for women,” says Hoosna Haque, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology at Columbia. The change in hormone levels can result in a wide range and variety of symptoms, notably hot flashes, but there is no need to suffer. There are lifestyle, non-hormonal, and hormonal measures that can ease this transition and provide significant relief.”

How to Manage Hot Flashes in Summer

A range of factors, such as stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, hot liquids, and smoking, can trigger hot flashes. But there are a few basic tactics you can try to stay cool, including:

  • Wear loose, breathable clothing: Clothes and bedding made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, or bamboo can help keep you cool and prevent excessive sweating. Avoid synthetic materials, which can trap heat and moisture against the skin. Wearing layers can help you adjust the body’s temperature to stay comfortable indoors and outdoors.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and other fluids to regulate the body’s temperature and prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate hot flashes. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and be sure to carry a water bottle. Eat frozen treats like popsicles when you’re feeling overheated.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: These can dehydrate the body and trigger hot flashes.
  • Take cool showers or baths: This can help to lower the body’s temperature. In addition, use fans or air conditioning to circulate cool air, creating a more comfortable environment.
  • Get your rest: Lowering the bedroom temperature and having layers of bedding that can be removed is helpful. Keep a glass of water by the bedside so you can sip when hot flashes come on, and use a gel pack or ice pack for immediate relief.
  • Find the shade: If spending time outside, try to stay in shaded areas or bring an umbrella to block the sun. A portable fan or misting spray can also help cool the body and reduce the severity of hot flashes.
  • Manage stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate hot flashes, so try relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, visualizations, or yoga. A book, music, or favorite hobby could also take your mind off the hot flash and help you stay calm and centered.
  • Try an essential oil: Place a small dab of a cooling essential oil, such as peppermint, on the wrists and back of the neck while using a small fan.
  • Embrace healthy lifestyle habits: “In addition to other health benefits, regular moderate exercise may reduce the experience of hot flashes,” Dr. Haque advises. “A well-balanced, wholesome diet rich in phytoestrogens such as soy or flax might also help control symptoms.”

When to Call Your Doctor

Finally, if hot flashes are so severe that they interfere with daily activities and quality of life and are not improved enough by these comfort measures, consider talking to a healthcare provider. There are several safe and effective treatment options available for hot flashes, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), non-hormonal medications, and therapies like acupuncture, which can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

Some women find relief from symptoms with supplements such as black cohosh, red clover, and evening oil of primrose, but more studies are needed to determine their effectiveness. Dr. Haque says it is important to talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking.

Your healthcare provider can help determine the best overall treatment options based on your needs and medical history.


Hoosna Haque, MD, is an assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology at Columbia. She is board certified in OB/GYN and integrative medicine.