Exploration of menopausal women's experiences with hot flashes
Menopause is a biological event that will affect all women who live long enough. Currently, 40 to 45 million in the United States are going through menopause or are postmenopausal. Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause occurring in more than 60% of women, and have a significant affect on a woman's quality of life. Women are often unprepared for what to expect with hot flashes, their insights are often dismissed by health care providers, and they are frequently not given adequate information by their health care providers to make informed choices about treatment options. The purpose of this feminist phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of menopausal women with hot flashes. Ten women participated in audiotaped interviews in order to obtain information about their experiences. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using Colaizzi's method for data analysis, and feminist guidelines were adhered to throughout the study. Rigor was established by trustworthiness, dependability, adequacy, credibility, and relevance. From the women's stories, four facets of the hot flash experience were identified: emotions, relational issues, menopausal expectations, and validation issues. The participants exhibited a range of emotions from anger and frustration to annoyance when hot flashes occurred. Relationships with self and others were affected. Women in this study did not know what to expect with menopausal hot flashes, and all noted problems with their physicians understanding their feelings and concerns. A theme of control connected each of the facets of the hot flash experience. The women did not like being out of control with their bodies, and all described a struggle for control. A physical description of the hot flash phenomenon was produced. Women used words like uncontrollable, unpredictable, and inopportune to describe the episodes of radiating heat and profuse sweating they experienced. Based on study findings, recommendations for nursing practice, nursing education, nursing research, and society were proposed.