Paced Respiration

Hormone therapy after menopause is not needed or appropriate for many women. However hot flushes can still be bothersome. To address this problem, Professor Robert Freedman of Wayne State University in Detroit, has been researching a new non-pharmacological method for helping women control their hot flushes.

The basis of the treatment is a slow controlled diaphragmatic breathing technique or “paced respiration”.

To develop this skill you need to find a quiet, private place where you can sit and practice without distraction.

  • Diaphragmatic breathing involves keeping the rib cage still and inhaling and exhaling by using your stomach muscles (distending and retracting the abdominal muscles) which results in the diaphragm moving up and down.
  • Without moving your rib cage you should inhale for 5 seconds and then exhale over 5 seconds.
  • To master this technique Professor Freedman recommends practicing every morning and every evening for 15 minutes.

Once you are accustomed to the technique you can put it to use. As soon as you feel a flush developing you start the paced breathing and continue until you feel the experience has passed.

Obviously this will not be useful for women who are troubled by flushes disturbing their sleep.

Two small placebo controlled trials have now shown this to be an effective way of managing flushes with hot flush frequency being reduced on average by 50-60% with this technique.

Why this technique works is not understood, but indeed it is certainly worth a try.

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