The exact cause of hot flashes isn't known, but the signs and symptoms point to factors affecting the function of your body's thermostat — the hypothalamus. This area at the base of your brain regulates body temperature and other basic processes. The estrogen reduction you experience during menopause may disrupt hypothalamic function, leading to hot flashes.

Low estrogen alone doesn't often seem to induce hot flashes, as children and women with low levels of estrogen due to medical conditions usually don't experience hot flashes. Instead, the withdrawal of estrogen, which happens during menopause, appears to be the trigger.

Jun. 11, 2011