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Menopause and Sweating

What Causes Hot Flashes and Sweating During Menopause? continued...

Your body is programmed to keep your core temperature the same, so when the air temperature rises, blood pours into blood vessels (vasodilation) 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, says Carolyn Alexander, MD, associate director of the residency program for the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

There are a couple of other theories about why menopause and excessive sweating tend to go hand in hand.

  • Super sensitivity of the skin. Doctors hypothesize that some women have very sensitive skin cells, which makes them more prone to vasodilation and hot flashes, Alexander says.
  • A brain chemical imbalance. Researchers have also theorized 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 flashes Alexander says.

Menopause and Excessive Sweating: What You Can Do

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

Work on your weight. Women who are overweight or obese are more likely to have frequent hot flashes, Omicioli says. A study of 338 overweight or obese women found that those who lost weight over 6 months had a bigger improvement in hot flashes than those who didn’t lose weight.

Exercise. Although studies haven’t been conclusive, it’s thought that regular physical exercise lowers hot flash frequency.

Stop smoking. Several studies have linked smoking to hot flashes. One study found that heavy smokers were four times more likely to have hot flashes than women who never smoked.

Include soy in your diet. According to the National Center for Complemetary and Alternative Medicine, results of studies showing that soy reduces hot flashes has been inconsistent. To see if it works for you, you might try adding two to three servings of soy to your diet, Omicioli says. Try soybeans, tofu, tempeh, or miso.

Stock up on tanks and cardigans. Wear lightweight clothes and dress in layers so you can shed heavier clothing when a hot flash strikes. Wearing a material at night that wicks away moisture may help you sleep

Control the air temperature. Lower the heat, run the air conditioning, open a window, or run a fan during the day and while you sleep.

Keep a cool drink by your side. Sipping a tall glass of ice water may help you keep your body temperature down. “We usually tell women to drink a lot of fluids and don’t get dehydrated,” Alexander says.

Pay attention to potential triggers. Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food may trigger hot flashes in some women.

Relax. The stress hormone cortisol may make women more sensitive to hot flashes, Omicioli says. Take some deep belly breaths when you feel stressed or try yoga and meditation.

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