It's fairly obvious that a physiological reaction can vary in frequency, duration, and intensity, but that's only the beginning. There's location-- I had no idea my eardrums were on a separate heating circuit from the rest of me. So are my ears. Of course, I've never gotten a hot flash in either of those when I was outside in the cold and it might have been useful.
And then there's irritation. I used to get really irritable when I had a hot flash, and I assumed it was a natural emotional reaction because I don't like being overheated. However, then I started getting no-irritation hot flashes, and now it seems more likely that a hot flash can carry a mini-PMS with it. At this point, I get somewhat distracted.
Sweat is another variable. Even though it's annoying, I think it makes the hot flashes more tolerable because there's more cooling than than with a no-sweat hot flash.
Some hot flashed feel "grainy". I have no idea how to explain that one any better.
How hot flashes effect sleep is another variable. I've heard about waking up in a pool of sweat, but that doesn't happen to me. Instead, I wake up, notice I'm starting a hot flash, and can't get back to sleep until I've cooled down. This was pretty awful when the hot flashes were under two hours apart, though fortunately that phase didn't last long. The only mercy is that they didn't seem to interrupt REM sleep for me.
I've only gotten anything new agey to work on a hot flash once. I was working with alignment (literal physical alignment), and that one time, I told my lower body to align, and something happened made my vertical axis very perceptible to me, and the hot flash went away quickly. I've tried to get that to happen again, but no luck so far.
A *very* small hot flash can actually feel like a pleasant variation, but I've only had a few like that.
For a while, soy milk worked for me, then it didn't. Then I had a vitamin-herb combination that worked somewhat, but I was going way over the recommended vitamin D. On the other hand, I've heard that recommended vitamin D is way too low. In any case, that stuff seemed to work as a mild anti-depressant with no perceptible bad side effects. I might get back to it.
At this point, my hot flashes are bunching up, but with longer intervals between them. And they're getting less intense, which I see as a hopeful sign.
For any pre-menopausal women who are reading this, don't panic. Or at least panic in moderation. You might have a much easier time, or a much worse one. I don't know if there's any way of predicting what you'll run into.
Last I heard, there's no solid scientific explanation of hot flashes. One theory is that the brain tries to shut down the ovaries, and the ovaries say "We've got a job! We'll just try harder!" and then things get deranged.
I've also heard that hot flashes are a sort of delusion-- your body thinks you're overheated, so it starts dumping heat and makes some body part feel overheated. I'm not sure this makes sense, but I've heard that some women have feeling (getting?) chilled as part of menopause.
The button slogan I don't sell: "They're not hot flashes, they're power surges". They aren't power surges.
The possible button slogan inspired by all this: "If you think there's such a thing as too much information, you lose geek points".