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Menopause and Sweating

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

“I felt a flush of heat come over me but I didn’t want to pay much attention to it,” she told WebMD. But when she stood up she felt sweat dripping down the inseam of her pants. “Thank goodness I carry a big purse because I think it makes my hips look smaller,” she says. She used her purse to hide the wet mark on her pants as she left the meeting. “It was absolutely mortifying.”

Doctors think hot flashes and night sweats are a result of fluctuating or decreasing estrogen levels. When menstrual cycles finally stop, estrogen levels drop fairly dramatically, Omicioli says.

The drop may impact a part of the brain that regulates body temperature. We all have a thermal neutral zone, which means our body temperature stays stable even when the temperature around us changes slightly. Theoretically, a drop in estrogen levels may narrow the thermal neutral zone, so that small changes in outside temperature cause a rise in body heat.

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.

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