MEN’S HOT FLASHES: GUYS DON’T TALK ABOUT – HYPNOTIC RELAXATION THERAPY MAY EASE THE DISCOMFORT
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton
Released: 9-Jul-2014 2:10 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 10-Jul-2014 7:30 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Baylor University
Citations International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
Newswise — Men who experience hot flashes are unlikely to talk much about it, but they may find relief from their silent suffering if they are willing to try an unusual treatment, according to findings from a Baylor University case study.
After seven weeks of hypnotic relaxation therapy, a 69-year-old man who had uncontrolled hot flashes following prostate cancer surgery showed a drastic decrease not only in hot flashes but also an impressive improvement in sleep quality, according to the study.
The Baylor study — funded by the National Institutes of Health — is published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.
“Men are more reluctant to report hot flashes, and it’s not as prevalent. There are fewer ways to deal with it,” said study author Gary Elkins, Ph.D., director of Baylor’s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory and a professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.
“If a guy has hot flashes, you can not say, ‘Well, why don’t we put you on estrogen?’ But it’s a pressing problem.”
Men’s hot flashes are, of course, not related to estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, Elkins said. They occur in men with a history of prostate cancer — the second most common malignancy in men — or another disorder causing a testosterone deficiency.
Up to 80 percent of prostate survivors experience hot flashes, and about 50 percent of those experience them as severe and needing treatment. What is more, hot flashes due to prostate cancer tend to be more frequent, more severe and more prolonged than those women experience. Elkins has done extensive research showing that hypnotic relaxation therapy greatly benefits postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors who suffer from hot flashes.
Current treatments for men are varied, ranging from hormone therapy to acupuncture, but outcomes have been mixed — and safety of some treatments remains in question, Elkins said.
The man in the Baylor study — referred to as “Mr. W” — was a married African African-American who suffered nightly hot flashes in 1999 because of androgen deficiency. He found some relief through testosterone injections — but in 2010, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and forced to discontinue hormone therapy. Shortly after his prostate was surgically removed, he again began suffering hot flashes.
He underwent seven weeks of drug-free, hypnotic relaxation therapy involving clinically trained therapists and introducing self-hypnosis, with results measured in self-reporting and physiological testing done through wearing skin monitors with electrodes, Elkins said.
By treatment’s end, he experienced a 94 percent reduction in hot flashes. His sleep quality improved by 87 percent, measured by a standardized test, and although the sleep quality had dropped at a 12-week follow-up, it remained in the “good quality of sleep” range, according to the study.
In an audio recorded interview with Elkins after several weeks of the therapy, “Mr. W” said he was at first skeptical and apprehensive, but “my wife said, ‘Try it. What have you got to lose?’ . . . It has helped tremendously. One time, I got so relaxed I thought I could hear myself snoring, but I could hear the young lady that was taking me through the steps of hypnosis of where I would go to be most comfortable.”
As part of the process, he kept a diary, initially chronicling up to 160 flashes a week — a “tremendous heat” and profuse sweating. But over the course of the treatment, those dropped to about 15 a week, he said in the interview.
Besides being guided through steps by a therapist, he took part through self-hypnosis, visualizing fishing at his favorite Texas lake. He donned imaginary rubber boots, waded into the water and enjoyed a cool breeze as he cast a line and fish began to nibble.
The therapy “eliminated the flashes, calmed me down, cooled my body off,” he said. “During one session, I needed a blanket . . . The self-hypnosis was empowering.”
The new research follows previous published studies by Elkins that found a marked decrease in hot flashes among postmenopausal women and also among breast cancer survivors who have undergone hypnotic relaxation therapy. It reduced hot flashes by as much as 80 percent, and research findings by clinically trained therapists show it also improved participants’ quality of life and lessened anxiety and depression. (Quality of life included such issues as work, sexuality, social and leisure activities, mood and concentration.)
“And that’s all without the increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease associated with hormone treatments such as estrogen or progestin,” Elkins said.
The weekly sessions of hypnosis of 187 women over a five-week period involved hypnosis by clinically trained therapists. The women also practiced self-hypnosis using audio recordings to visualize a snowy path or cool mountain creek. During the treatments, the women wore skin monitors with electrodes and kept diaries of when they had hot flashes, how often, how severe they were, and what might have triggered flashes, such as stress, spicy foods or being in a hot room.
Women also were encouraged to individualize their therapy. An example: One woman’s imagery was walking to a lake from her porch to sit on lawn chairs with her family at sunset.
Previous research has shown that people vary when it comes to being “hypnotizable” — responsive to hypnosis — but the consensus is that most people are at least moderately so.
Besides having few or no side effects, hypnotic relaxation therapy is cost-saving and allows patients to be involved in their own healing.
“There’s no ‘One size fits all,’ ‘’ Elkins said, noting that for women, hormone replacement therapy improves bone health and lowers the risk of some types of colon cancer. “But hypnotic relaxation therapy has been shown to be the most effective drug-free option – as well as having few or no side effects.”
Co-researchers were Cassie Kendrick and Lauren Koep Crenshaw, former graduate students in Baylor’s Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory. Kendrick has a private practice in clinical psychology in Waco; Crenshaw is a staff psychologist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio.
Gary Elkins is the author of Relief from Hot Flashes: The Natural, Drug-Free Program to Reduce Hot Flashes, Improve Sleep, and Ease Stress (Demos Health Publishing). His research has been published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society, and he is president-elect for the Society for Psychological Hypnosis, a division of the American Psychological Association.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
We all know about hot flushes we women and we are told this is nature’ s way. For some of us it is hard to tolerate and the symptoms can be difficult to live with. I seemed to spend years with a patch which worked for me but that is sometime ago. Things may have changed since then. It is great to be without the ‘curse’ as we called it.
Having said that hypnotheraphy is available for almost everything these days. Why not hot flushes for women? You would however be wise to look for recommendations from friends or a clinical hypnotherapist. You would be putting your mind in someone else’s hands. Take a friend and you need to be satisfied the hypnotherapist is registered and reliable.
I recently spoke to Debbie Barnes, a Chichester hypnotherapist. Debbie came to the Fibromyalgia Conference in March. Quick commercial here – next FibCon is April 24/27 2015 Chichester Park Hotel. I have more details if you want them.
Debbie does quite a lot of hypnotic gastric bands. Curious I asked her what happens when you go ‘under’. Apparently you are ‘taken’ through the entire routine including visualising the operating theatre, the anesthetic and the staff . You also feel some discomfort from surgery later, ableit it not too much to bear. The good news is no painful scars and it works so you do regulate your eating successfully.
Debbie also does birthing hypnosis, another painful experience for women. Wish I had known about that when I delivered two of my three children. A surgeon delivered my third while I was out for a count. It is true with a caesarean operation I did not go through the birthing pains but it was not much fun after the operation trying to feed the baby. This was not for cosmetic reasons but medical concerns for the baby. He is now a strong 6ft 10 inch lad so I am glad I did not have to deliver that big healthy baby.
If I think about hypnosis, positive thinking and mind over matter comes into my head. So in theory with your hypnotherapists you can be what you want. If you are of shy disposition you could suddenly become the life and soul of the party. I have seen Debbie brush away pains and send these out of the body. The mind boggles. Debbie has you smiling and laughing while she is doing her bit. A great gal is Debbie.
I know hypnotherapists also do regression – take you back to what you once were. That must be an eye opener. It is a subject that fascinates me but cannot remember having committed to hypnosis while I have been conscious – if you know what I mean. I might have made a fool of myself at a party without recognition. But hypnotherapy does offer endless possibilities – pain relief, losing weight, phobias, anxieties, panic attacks and in fact life changes.
I will leave you with these amazing thoughts and men’s flashes – made me smile a little – the flashes instead of flushes. On that note I am off to bed to think what I might write about tomorrow.
Please excuse any fibro typos. Partly FM and I am waiting for eye surgery and not seeing to well. If I disappear for a few days you will know why. But I will be back – I promise.
Back tomorrow. Jeanne