Study: Deep breathing can’t stop hot flashes

September 17, 2012 at 12:00 am in Healthy Living by VN Editors

Slow, deep breathing techniques may not be the answer women who want to stop hot flashes have been hoping for. A new study shows that the technique doesn’t affect hot flashes, as previously believed.

Just breathe

Having hot flashes causes many women to seek relief. It’s the most common symptom of menopause and one of the most troublesome, because there is a cure. Hormone Replacement Therapy, HRT, can give your body back the estrogen that it’s lost through menopause. This greatly relieves hot flashes, hormonal night sweats and many other symptoms associated with menopause. However, many medical experts have advised against using HRT because it increases cancer risk in women.

Other experts have advised that breathing techniques can help stop hot flashes naturally. According to one new study, it’s not true. The study has been recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. A clinical trial of menopausal women showed that breathing techniques didn’t affect hot flashes.

Through paced respiration, 6 to 8 breaths are taken every minute. It’s a technique used to promote relaxation, and some physicians encourage menopausal women to practice it twice a day for 15 minutes at a time. Women are also encouraged to practice it when a hot flash begins. The North American Menopause Society is one of the advocates of the paced respiration technique.

The new study, conducted in a blind and controlled method, involved 218 women. Of these, 88 were asked to use the slow breathing method when experiencing a hot flash. Another 86 women were told to do exactly the opposite. They were instructed to take quick, shallow breaths when experiencing hot flashes instead. The other 44 were told to breathe and behave normally and do nothing new at all when their flashes came.

Some women in all three groups noted a change in their hot flashes, but there were no significant results in any category. The findings indicate that breathing methods make little difference, and can’t stop hot flashes after all.

Janet Carpenter, the lead author of the study, says she would encourage women not to try breathing techniques. “I would actually rule this out,” she explained to Reuters Health. “I think we need to not tell women to use things that are not helpful, because it delays them finding treatments that are helpful.”

Different treatments have different effects on menopausal women, however, and many experts agree that stress-relief can be a very effective treatment. Certain vitamin supplements and medicinal treatments that don’t involve hormone therapy have also worked well for many menopausal women.

Learn more ways to stop hot flashes in our free special report, 5 Proven Remedies to Reduce Hot Flashes During Menopause.

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