Ways To Manage Menopausal Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common and intense symptoms of menopause. More than two-thirds of women get them during perimenopause and menopause.
If youve ever had a hot flash, you know what it feels like. Your face, neck, and chest suddenly flush. You feel overheated and sweaty, and your heart might start racing.
And if you get hot flashes during the day, chances are good that you get night sweats too. Night sweats are hot flashes that happen while youre trying to sleep. They can be so severe that they wake you up and keep you from getting restful sleep.
Hormonal changes are often to blame for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. You cant change the process your body goes through during menopause, but theres a lot you can do to manage your symptoms.
Daniel McDonald, MD, , and our team at OB/GYN Specialists in Denton, Texas, provide comprehensive menopause care and hormonal optimization for women. If night sweats are keeping you awake, its time to find treatment options that work.
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Treating Hot Flushes Without Hormones: What Works What Doesnt
Numerous products and techniques are promoted for hot flashes, but do they work, and are they safe? To answer these questions, a North American Menopause Society panel of experts weighed the evidence and made recommendations in a position statement, Nonhormonal management of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms, published online today in the Societys journal, Menopause.
From 50 to 80 percent of women approaching menopause try nonhormonal therapies for hot flushes. US and British surveys show just how uncertain women are about these therapies, with one survey demonstrating that nearly half feel confused about their options for managing menopause symptoms and another showing that 75% dont feel fully informed about herbal products.
The NAMS panel found evidence that a few therapies do work, including two behavioral approaches and certain nonhormonal prescription medications. Other lifestyle and behavioral approaches, treatments, and a supplement under study look beneficial, but the evidence is not as strong. And the evidence for other lifestyle approaches, herbs, and supplements is insufficient, inconclusive, or just plain negative.
Evidence that isnt as strong suggests that some other approaches may be beneficial, including weight loss, stress reduction, a soy derivative under study , and stellate ganglion block , so the panel recommends these with caution.
Natural Remedies For Hot Flashes
Vasomotor symptoms, or hot flashes and night sweats, are the most common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
Perimenopause is the period before menopause when these symptoms begin and peak. This period lasts on average for 4 years but can last for much longer.
Menopause is the time in a womans life when she has not had a period for at least a year. She may continue to experience hot flashes and night sweats, but they will probably occur less often.
The details of exactly how hot flashes work are still not fully understood. However, most research suggests that a lack of estrogen interferes with the bodys ability to control temperature.
While hormone replacement medications can help treat severe cases, natural remedies may lessen the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.
Recommended lifestyle tips that may help reduce hot flashes include:
Identifying trigger points and avoiding them
The factors that increase the frequency and severity of hot flashes vary from woman to woman. Common triggers include:
- warm weather
- spicy or hot foods and beverages
Most women do not need to avoid trigger points entirely, but knowing which specific factors worsen hot flashes allows women to deal with them when they occur.
Smoking may speed up the onset of menopause and increase the severity of symptoms, especially hot flashes.
Carrying cool water at all times
Staying hydrated may also help steady body temperatures.
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Eat More Foods That Are High In Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.
Therefore, they may help balance hormones.
The high intake of phytoestrogens in Asian countries such as Japan is thought to be the reason why menopausal women in these places rarely experience hot flashes.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans and soy products, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans. However, the phytoestrogen content in foods varies depending on processing methods.
One study found that diets high in soy were associated with reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reduced severity of hot flashes and night sweats among women who were starting to enter menopause .
However, the debate continues over whether soy products are good or bad for you.
Evidence suggests that real food sources of phytoestrogens are better than supplements or processed foods with added soy protein (
Drinking 17 oz of water, 30 minutes before a meal may lead you to consume 13% fewer calories during the meal .
Drinking enough water may help prevent weight gain, aid in weight loss and reduce symptoms of dryness.
Hot Flashes And Night Sweats: Causes
So, lets talk about whats going on. It seems that nobody really knows the exact cause of hot flashes. But it likely has something to do with an area of the brain called the thermoregulatory zone, which is quite responsive to the hormone estrogen. As estrogen levels plummet during menopause, this area of the brain is affected, and women get a sensation of overwhelming heat and difficulty managing temperature fluctuations.
Horny Goat Weed Epimedium Grandiflorum
Horny goat weed has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years to enhance libido in men and women, as well as for symptoms of menopause and PMS. It is a popular herb, available over the counter, for both men and women seeking to improve libido and sexual function. However, there are no clinical trials using horny goat weed for menopausal symptom relief, or for sexual function.
Precaution: A single case of mania and increased heart rate has been reported in the scientific literature, associated with taking horny goat weed.
Less Stress And Natural Resources
Stress is usually a factor in excessive sweating when it comes to people diagnosed with hyperhidrosis. The more anxious, nervous, or stressed you are, the more you sweat.
My advice would be doing something relaxing so that youd be able to go to bed relaxed. You can either meditate, listen to soothing music, or do relaxing breathing. There are also other more natural remedies like herbs or food that you can avoid to stop the sweating episodes.
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Why Do Hot Flashes Get Worse At Night How To Stop Them
There comes a period in every womans life where their biological clock reaches the time where menopause begins. When it comes to the sexual fertility of a woman, menstruation is the milestone that marks the physiological readiness to bear children. And at the opposite end of the time spectrum, menopause is the phase of life that signals the end of fertility for women. Menopause is the point in a womans life where she stops having her period and naturally occurs between the ages of 45-50 years old. However, there is no rhyme or reason as to which symptoms are experienced or the duration of the menopausal phases from woman to woman. One of the most notable symptoms of menopause and the time period leading up to menopause is hot flashes. Below, we will explain in more detail the phases of menopause, the symptoms and how to deal with them, specifically hot flashes.
Are Night Sweats The Same As Hot Flushes
So, night sweats and hot flushes. We tend to lump them together but they are quite different in many ways. And there are those women who will get night sweats who dont get hot flushes during the day. So I thought, today, I would just talk about night sweats on their own and give them a little bit of focus. One of the main questions is, Are night sweats the same as hot flushes?.
Very often, they stem from the same causes but the symptoms themselves and the reaction in the body are very, very different. With hot flushes during the day, you normally find you can feel them starting. Theres some point in the body where you suddenly realise youre feeling a little bit warm and, very often, a hot flush will sweep upwards, from somewhere in the body maybe right up to the head.
And that will give you, obviously, a big tip that, you know, a hot flush is coming. Whereas, with a night sweat, because youre already asleep, very often the first indication you get is when theyve already occurred and you suddenly wake up, and youre soaking wet. So, the night sweats are more to do with sweating and perspiring, rather than just getting a raft of heat coming up through the body. So, they can be treated slightly differently.
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Top 6 Natural Remedies To Relieve Night Sweats
Waking up in the night covered in sweat is a common complaint of women approaching menopause. The dreaded night sweats occur primarily due to hormonal changes in the body, where an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone triggers sudden internal activity, to which the body responds by producing sweat to cool down. Though the cause of menopausal night sweats is usually hormonal, lifestyle and dietary factors do contribute to their severity. Keep reading to discover six easy, natural remedies for minimizing night sweating episodes.
Natural Treatments For Your Menopause Symptoms
To offset menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, a first step for many health care providers is to prescribe estrogen hormone therapy. Although in most cases hormone therapy is the right choice for some patients, alternate approaches might be more suitable. At AdvantageCare Physicians, our whole-you care approach is based on knowing about all of the physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors that impact your health. And that includes discussing the full range of menopause treatment choices available to you.
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Cut Out The Nightcap To Cut Night Sweats
Common triggers that cause a spike in both heart rate and body temperature include caffeine, spicy food, and alcohol. This doesnt mean cut them out completely, but certainly avoid them in the evening. Alcohol, in particular, also sends your blood sugar levels into a spin and stays in your system for up to two hours. After a drink or three, blood vessels near the skins surface will open up and prompt the body to perspire, which is why a glass of wine gives you that glow. So maybe swap the nightcap for a soothing herbal tea.
Add Natural Foods And Supplements To Your Diet
Adding natural foods and supplements to your diet on a long-term basis may help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Research has been mixed about how effective these supplements are for treating hot flashes and night sweats, but some women have found relief using them.
Because these products may have significant side effects or interact with other medications, you should consult your doctor before taking them.
Here are a few you might want to try:
- eating one or two servings of soy per day, which has been shown to decrease how often hot flashes occur and how intense they are
- eating flax seeds or taking flaxseed supplement capsules or flaxseed oil, which is also called linseed oil, to help reduce hot flashes
You can also talk to your doctor about prescription therapies or over-the-counter supplements that can help you find relief. They may suggest:
- hormone replacement therapy using the lowest dose necessary for the shortest period
- gabapentin , which is an antiseizure drug used to treat epilepsy, migraines, and nerve pain but can also lessen hot flashes
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The Most Common Menopause Symptoms
Women can experience a variety of symptoms and conditions related to changes in sex hormone levels and aging. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:
- Irregular periods: As perimenopause begins , periods can come and go, plus get heavier or lighter at times. This can sometimes continue for several years during menopause
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety or depressive symptoms
- Vaginal dryness and decreased sex drive
- Increased abdominal fat and weight gain
- Insomnia and changes in sleep quality
- Thinning hair and dryer skin
- Going to the bathroom more often
- Breast changes
- Changes in the uterus, ovaries and cervix
- For some, a higher risk for certain other age-related diseases
Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Cognitive behavioural therapy
The good news is that CBT can alleviate low mood and anxiety which arise as a result of the menopause, and now we realise CBT can also improve hot flushes and sweats. The North American Menopause Society recommends a CBT approach that combines relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene and learning to take positive healthy attitude to a menopause challenge. CBT is now a recommended treatment option for anxiety experienced during the peri and post-menopause. A CBT approach which is theory based can improve hot flush perception and reduce stress and sleep problems. There are two-way interactions between mood and hot flushes as 10% of women are more likely to be depressed during the menopause. A fact sheet on the Womens Health Concern website provides guidance on cognitive behavioural therapy in a self-help format for women to access directly.
Guidelines recommend that you look for the THR logo standing for traditional herbal medicines. These products have been approved and you can be sure that the product has the correct dosage, is of high quality and has suitable product information. The NICE guidelines also recommend that many available herbal medicines have unpredictable dose and purity and some herbal medicines have significant drug interactions.
St Johns Wort:
Other herbal treatments including Ginseng and Chinese herbal medicines are not shown to improve hot flushes, anxiety or low mood.
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Black Cohosh Actaea Racemosa
For centuries, Native North American women have used black cohosh for menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms.
Black cohosh is the most extensively researched of all herbs used for managing menopausal symptoms, and is available in many different formulations, which vary in quality and efficacy. Many of the clinical studies of black cohosh have used the commercially available product Remifemin®, or the extract Ze 450 .
It is not clear how black cohosh acts on the body. It does not appear to act like the female hormone oestrogen, but may be involved in modulating oestrogenic pathways in the body. It may mimic the actions of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Precautions: black cohosh should be taken only for as long as your menopausal symptoms persist. It is generally well tolerated, although can cause headaches in some women. Headaches usually stop if the dose is reduced for a while, then gradually increased again.
Black cohosh is often used in early menopause brought on by cancer treatments, especially breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer. Of all the herbs, black cohosh has the most research about its safety in support of its use. It appears to be safe in breast cancer patients, although further research is needed. Women with breast cancer or other hormone-dependent tumours should always talk to their doctor before taking black cohosh.
What Are The Risks Of Using Hormones For Hot Flashes
In 2002, a study that was part of the Womens Health Initiative , funded by the National Institutes of Health, was stopped early because participants who received a certain kind of estrogen with progesterone were found to have a significantly higher risk of stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer, dementia, urinary incontinence, and gallbladder disease.
This study raised significant concerns at the time and left many women wary of using hormones.
However, research reported since then found that younger women may be at less risk and have more potential benefits than was suggested by the WHI study. The negative effects of the WHI hormone treatments mostly affected women who were over age 60 and post-menopausal. Newer versions of treatments developed since 2002 may reduce the risks of using hormones for women experiencing the menopausal transition, but studies are needed to evaluate the long-term safety of these newer treatments.
If you use hormone therapy, it should be at the lowest dose, for the shortest period of time it remains effective, and in consultation with a doctor. Talk with your doctor about your medical and family history and any concerns or questions about taking hormones.
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Compounded Bioidentical Menopausal Hormone Therapy
Compounded bioidentical hormones contain hormonal preparations which are aimed at correcting hormonal imbalances which may occur at menopause. However, there is no evidence to support the effectiveness or safety of these products. Not only is evidence lacking to support superiority claims of compounded bioidentical hormones over conventional MHT, these claims also pose the additional risks of variable purity and potency, and lack efficacy and safety data. The Committee on Gynecologic Practice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the US Endocrine Society have raised major concerns about the safety and efficacy of these products and recommend that patients be counselled to avoid their use .
Strengthen Your Bones With Calcium And Vitamin D:
Its normal to undergo hormonal changes during menopause, which lead to weak bones. This could well be a first sign of early menopause. Weak bones increase the risk of osteoporosisa condition that can be prevented by taking a regular dose of calcium and Vitamin D tablets or you could add these nutrients naturally in your diet. Foods rich in calcium include milk, cheese and yogurt.
To increase your intake of Vitamin D, take a walk in the early morning sunlight. When exposed to sunlight, your skin will produce natural Vitamin D. You can still get your Vitamin D with a sufficient dosage of natural supplements. Sunlight is your main source of vitamin D, since your skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, as you get older, your skin gets less efficient at making it.
If you arent out in the sun much or if you cover up your skin, either taking a supplement or increasing food sources of vitamin D may be important.
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