Resources / Night sweats during menopause: causes & treatments

Night sweats during menopause: causes & treatments

Night sweats are a common, sometimes debilitating, symptom associated with menopause. They often occur as drenching sweats during sleep that may be so heavy that they soak night clothes and bedding. Night sweats are usually preceded by hot flushes and together are referred to medically as  “vasomotor symptoms”. Vasomotor symptoms are the most common reason that women seek treatment during menopause. Night sweats are often distressing, causing disrupted sleep which may then lead to tiredness and irritability.

Night Sweats Menopause

Why do menopausal night sweats happen?

Although many women are more aware of sweating during the night, sweats may happen just as frequently during the day. The cause of flushes and sweats is not completely understood, but research suggests that the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menopause transition make the hypothalamus (the brain’s temperature regulatory centre) more sensitive to slight changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus senses that the body is too warm (even if it is not), the body begins a process to cool itself down and flushes and sweats occur as a result.

Why do menopausal sweats happen more at night?

Hot flushes and sweats during menopause can happen at any time of day, but often seem worse at night for many women, most likely because there are more distractions during the day. Other reasons that sweats may seem worse at night include:

  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep: Many women experience disturbed sleep during the menopause transition, which may make them more aware of vasomotor symptoms. Additionally, hot flushes and sweats themselves may cause sleep disturbance, thereby setting up a vicious cycle.
  • Environment: A warm room, heavy blankets or nightwear made from wool or synthetic fabrics may increase body temperature and make vasomotor symptoms worse.
  • Diet: Certain foods can trigger vasomotor symptoms. Caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods may all naturally increase body temperature, and make hot flushes and sweats feel more intense.

Can night sweats be a sign of other illnesses?

The most likely cause of night sweats in the menopause transition is the hormonal fluctuations described above. However, they may be caused by other medical conditions, including certain infections and some kinds of cancer. In this case, sweats will usually be accompanied by other symptoms related to the underlying illness, including weight loss or fever. It’s important to seek medical advice if you are concerned that your night sweats might be unrelated to menopause.

How long do menopausal night sweats last?

Vasomotor symptoms are most frequent in the first year after the last period and typically last for an average of 4-7 years. However, a 2015 study found that approximately 40% of women aged 60-65 still experience post-menopause night sweats, while 20% experience them for 15+ years.

Treatment for night sweats

Hormone replacement therapy 

The most effective treatment for menopausal night sweats is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT smooths out the hormone fluctuations that provoke hot flushes and night sweats, resulting in the restoration of the temperature control pathways towards normal.  Most women notice that their symptoms improve within a few weeks of starting HRT.

HRT also helps with other menopause symptoms, including brain fog, joint pains, mood swings and vaginal dryness. It also reduces the risk of menopause-associated long-term health conditions such as osteoporosis and heart disease

Night Sweats Menopause

Other treatments for night sweats

  • Avoid triggers: As mentioned above, spicy foods and alcoholic or caffeinated beverages may trigger hot flushes, as can smoking, vaping, or use of other tobacco products.
  • Keep cool: Loose, light bedding and night clothes made of natural, breathable fibres like cotton and linen and keeping the bedroom windows open or using a fan may help. 
  • Address lifestyle: Attention to diet and lifestyle has been shown to reduce vasomotor symptoms in some women. Foods such as soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils contain estrogen-like compounds which can help relieve symptoms. Vasomotor symptoms are often worse in women who are overweight so following a weight loss programme may help, too.
  • Relaxation techniques: Research has shown that relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and meditation, can help because they tend to reduce anxiety, depression and irritability. This does not stop the vasomotor symptoms themselves but helps with women’s mental management of them, helping some to feel more in control. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can also help with this. 
  • Prescription medication: For women who are unable to, or who choose not to take HRT, non-hormonal treatments such as oxybutynin, gabapentin or venlafaxine may be used. Although primarily used for other medical conditions, studies have shown them to be useful for treatment of vasomotor symptoms.

Specialist support for menopausal night sweats

Night sweats can be a distressing symptom of menopause and it can be difficult to know where to start with treatment or what exactly will help you. If you’re worried about night sweats in menopause and are looking for professional guidance, let the menopause specialists at NewWoman Health help.

Our doctors and experts help women to manage and minimise their menopause symptoms using a range of treatments and techniques, with personalised medical consultations to develop pragmatic plans tailored to your needs. 

Book your consultation today to start managing your menopause and securing your future quality of life.

How NewWoman Health can help

At NewWomen Health we have a commitment to educating, advising, treating and supporting women approaching, during, and following menopause. Our wide range of medical and lifestyle interventions helps women to manage or minimise their menopause symptoms and improve their quality (and potential longevity) of life in an aspirational and uplifting way.

If you’re concerned about night sweats or any symptoms you have been experiencing, we can help with our personalised medical consultations with menopause specialists. Take the next step in learning about night sweats and ensuring your long-term health and quality of life by booking a consultation with us today.

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You are not alone. As a local example, in Manchester over 46% of council employees are female and over 40 years old. In a CIPD survey (2019) over 30% of women said they were unable to work because of menopausal symptoms.

Only 25% said they could tell their manager the real reason for their absence. The Council account for nearly 7% of all employment in Manchester. They implemented a new Menopause policy in March 2022. CIPD survey | Manchester Council Menopause Policy | CIPD Manchester

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