Hot Flashes Heated Babies In Prehistoric Times?

Menopausal hot flashes are so miserable, yet so universal, it's always perplexed gynos as to why they exist. The numbers of serious medical consequences: more cognitive impairment, more heart disease, less sleep, more depression, and other unwanted consequences of hot flashes have belied the thinking that these hot flashes could be beneficial for women. Were they just the obvious signal to males of paleolithic times that this woman was no longer fertile? Since few women lived to the age of menopause until the 20th century, it's hard to figure that this was the 'societal reason' that favored the survival of women with hot flashes. Two anthropologists at the University of Mass have come up with their own theory about hot flashes in menopause.  This study was also reported in the journal Menopause volume 22, 2015. They have postulated that low estrogen post delivery triggers these heat surges that would warm newborn babies in their mother's embrace. Many studies do document that at least 10% of women after birth complain of hot flashes, and at least a third complain of night hot flashes. In these studies the results were actually fairly confusing. Women don't really have extra hot flashes while holding the infant to breastfeed; and women are not accurate when reporting a hot flash has occurred with respect to when their skin temperature elevates. Skin temperatures would elevate regardless. The study was excellent yet moms did not wear monitors for 24 hours, we live in such controlled atmospheres now, and hormonal use for contraception actually confounds the ability to study the theory exhaustively. But their data didn't really support baby warming as the physiologic evolutionary advantage they were looking for. So for now, focus on minimizing the ill effects for their patients and working on newer theories regarding hot flashes.


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