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Menopause health centre

Menopause and sweating

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Hot flushes are a common symptom associated with the menopause.

Intense heat starts in your chest and rises to your neck and head. Skin may redden and sweating, which can be excessive, can also occur.

If you are one of the unlucky ones this can happen 20 or 30 times a day.

Doctors believe that hot flushes and night sweats happen as a result of changing oestrogen levels. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and excessive sweating of menopause.

Will I have hot flushes as I approach menopause?

Hot flushes are one of the most common signs of perimenopause, the years leading up to menopause. Menopause, when your period stops for good, typically happens between age 45 and 55.

Some women experience the heat and flushing without sweating, while others sweat so much they need a change of clothes. When hot flushes happen at night, leaving you and your sheets drenched, they're called night sweats.

Dr Heather Currie is a gynaecologist and expert on menopause.

She says 85% of women will have hot flushes or night sweats. She says symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. Some women will only experience them for a few months. For others hot flushes may happen many times a day for several years.

"Hot flushes can have a big impact on the lives of some women," according to Dr Currie, "It can be embarrassing and psychologically difficult. Night sweats can lead to tiredness and irritability the next day through lack of sleep."

What causes hot flushes and sweating during menopause?

Hot flushes are triggered by a decrease in levels of the hormone oestrogen which is produced by the ovaries, says Dr Currie who founded the independent website Menopause Matters. When menstrual cycles finally stop, oestrogen levels drop fairly dramatically.

Changing levels of oestrogen affect the part of the brain that regulates temperature - the body's thermostat which may explain the sweating. She says there are other factors that can influence the severity of flushes.

Your body is programmed to keep your core temperature the same, so when the air temperature rises, blood pours into blood vessels in your skin. You'll become flushed and start to sweat.

Sweating is your body's way of cooling off and keeping your core temperature stable.

There are a couple of other theories about why menopause and excessive sweating tend to go hand in hand. Some doctors believe that a proportion of women have very sensitive skin cells which make them prone to hot flushes. Other researchers have suggested that differences in levels of the hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells, and a drop in blood sugar may play a role in hot flushes.

Menopause and excessive sweating: What you can do

Some changes to your regular routine may help cool hot flushes.

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