Menopause, or the end of female fertility, occurs 12 months after your final menstrual cycle. During the years-long transition to this point (perimenopause) and in the lifelong stage (postmenopause), your dwindling reproductive hormone levels can give rise to various irritating symptoms.
But of all the disruptive menopausal symptoms that can arise — from mood swings and low energy to vaginal dryness and easy weight gain — body-drenching night sweats (or nighttime hot flashes) are arguably the most bothersome.
If night sweats interfere with your sleep (and give you a lot of extra laundry), our seasoned women’s wellness team at New Beginnings OB/GYN can help. Read on as Dr. Christina Parmar and Dr. Rania Ibrahim explain what causes menopausal night sweats, and offer solutions to help you ease them — or stop them altogether.
Sweating is the body’s natural cooling mechanism: A rising body temperature automatically prompts your nervous system to trigger your sweat glands, releasing water on the surface of your skin that cools you down as it evaporates.
Menopausal night sweats, on the other hand, don’t cool you down or increase your comfort — instead, they leave you drenched, soak through your clothes, dampen your bedsheets, and disrupt your sleep.
So, what causes you to feel a sudden wave of heat through your body that reddens your skin, makes you sweat, and increases your heart rate? Night sweats are the nocturnal version of hot flashes, both a product of the substantial and sustained decline of estrogen and progesterone.
These hormonal changes can make it harder for your brain (hypothalamus) to regulate your body temperature, like a “glitch” in your system that causes your internal thermostat to heat up randomly and without warning. Your body responds to this warming with sweat.
If persistent night sweats interfere with your sleep quality and affect your daily life, you can make them more tolerable or even stop them altogether. Our team recommends trying lifestyle methods before considering medical interventions or using a combined approach for severe symptoms.
Daily exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight can go a long way in helping you ease night sweats — inactive and overweight women are more likely to have severe or frequent hot flashes and night sweats. You may also be able to alleviate the problem by:
If certain foods or activities seem to trigger your night sweats, do your best to avoid them — especially from the late afternoon onward. Common hot flashes/night sweats triggers include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.
If lifestyle strategies don’t deliver the relief you’re after, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be the next best option. HRT eliminates menopausal symptoms by restoring your reproductive hormones to more optimal levels. While there are various forms of HRT, one of the most effective delivery methods is a hormone-releasing pellet inserted beneath your skin and replaced every few months as needed.
Suppose your health history (i.e., uncontrolled hypertension, a blood clot disorder, or a history of breast cancer) precludes you from using HRT to alleviate persistent night sweats. In that case, you may attain relief through non-hormonal medication.
While several medications can be used to ease night sweats, paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, is FDA-approved to treat hot flashes and night sweats. If non-hormonal medication is your right strategy, our team can help you determine which option best matches your needs.
Menopause-related night sweats usually disappear within a few years. But some women linger well beyond menopause, causing ongoing, wellness-eroding sleep disruptions. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way — the right approach is all it takes to gain the upper hand over your most bothersome menopausal symptoms, including night sweats.
Are you ready to thrive through menopause? Our experts can help. Call or click online today to learn more or schedule a visit at New Beginnings OB/GYN in Shenandoah, Texas.