Night sweats are drenching sweats that soak clothes and bedding and disturb sleep. Night sweats occur when blood vessels expand, causing increased blood flow, and then contract. This causes a sudden wave of heat that spreads throughout the body, followed by sweating, reddening of the skin, and rapid heartbeat. Often, the night sweat is followed by a cold chill.
Night sweats are common is women who are going through perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause is a normal, natural phase of a woman’s life. During this time, a woman’s ovaries produce less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and menstrual periods become irregular. The low or changing levels of estrogen in particular are the cause of night sweats.
Perimenopause usually happens between ages 40 and 50. It is the transition step before menopause. A woman has reached menopause when she hasn’t had a period for 12 months in a row. The average age of menopause is 51.
No. Night sweats can occur for a variety of reasons and can occur in both women and men. Other health conditions in which night sweats are seen include:
Women who experience other than menopause-related night sweats typically have other symptoms, as well. Only your doctor can determine the cause of your night sweats. Almost all causes are treatable. If you have ongoing night sweats, see your doctor.
Treatment depends on the cause of the night sweats. For menopause-related night sweats, hormone therapy – estrogen alone or with progestin – is one option. Hormone therapy can also help with other symptoms of menopause including bone loss and vaginal dryness. Estrogen replacement therapy should not be used in women with a history of breast cancer. All hormone therapies carry some risks, including blood clots and gallbladder inflammation.
Non-estrogen medications used to treat hot flashes include:
Non-drug treatments for night sweats from any cause include:
Night sweats go away after a few years in most women undergoing menopause. Unfortunately, other women may experience night sweats for the rest of their lives. However, the night sweats usually lessen in severity.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 06/29/2017