Aug. 15, 2006 -- Hot flashes are the most common complaints of women who are experiencing menopause.
There are ways, however, to combat them through clothes, food and herbal supplements.
A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for 12 months in a row. During that time, her body slowly makes less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Women usually experience menopause between 45 and 55 years old, but some may experience menopause at younger ages because of medical treatments such as surgery to remove the ovaries; genetics; or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation to the pelvic area.
Hot flashes usually appear during the perimenopause transition when a woman is in her 40s.
When a woman has a hot flash, she suddenly feels warm in her face, neck or chest.
The sensation can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Some women feel their heart beating faster and as a result, become anxious.
Those who have had a hysterectomy or an oophorectomy have more severe hot flashes.
Other symptoms include night sweats, or the vagina may become dry and thin, causing sex to be painful.
Karen Giblin, the founder of the menopause education program Red Hot Mamas, came to "Good Morning America" to offer some ideas about how to make menopause easier to endure.
Keep a diary of your hot flashes and share it with your doctor. Track the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, and what you were wearing and eating.
Layer your clothes so you can peel them off if you experience a hot flash.
Avoid spicy foods that can bring on hot flashes.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking. These all can exacerbate hot flashes.
Black Cohosh is an herb that reduces hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. It has been used for 100 years by American Indians and for the past 50 years in Germany. Remifemin is the most well-known formulation of the herb.
Soy is very prevalent in Asian diets, and Giblin said Asian women did not experience hot flashes the way Western women did. Giblin said that there was not even a word for "hot flash" in many Asian languages.
Wicking J Sleepwear, Wicking J pillow cases, and the Chillow pillow help you stay cool at night. Visit wickingsleepwear.com
Dove Cool Moisture Body Wash and Lotion will help cool the body down, Giblin said.
"The Hot Flash Cookbook" features meals that may help ease hot flashes.
Try Replens moisture for a dry vagina. Visit Replens.com
For more on menopause, visit the Red Hot Mamas menopause Web site at redhotmamas.org.