This Is Us

Anatomy of a Hot Flash

These brief flares remind me of my body’s capacity for upheaval and renewal

Lisa Renee
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readMar 23, 2021


Photo: Xuanyu Han/Getty Images

Standing in the kitchen on a cool early fall day, chopping the last of the late summer sauce tomatoes, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by a bloom of heat in my body. Rapidly expanding heat from head to toe, feeling fall no more, but a heat wave flush, like a sweltering summer day.

Is it me or is it hot in here?

The hot flash is the darling of menopause symptoms, the signal marker of what some consider midlife female malfunction. Hot flash is synonymous with menopause, and those without a clue (men, young women, lucky women) begin their short, practiced list of meno ills with the flash. Flashes (or flushes), insomnia, and irritability seem to top these novice lists. If only a flash, a bad night, and a worse mood were the worst of it.

If only.

The flashes are interesting, in the right light. In bed, or in a still, safe, quiet space, the sudden burst of internal fire is remarkable. It’s like a blooming, an expansion of interior landscape — me filling the space around me and becoming more, somehow. It can be almost empowering, as if a previously unknown strength within is suddenly exposed. Flashes also, however, make for their own special kind of…