Although it can seem daunting, menopause is a natural process that all women undergo as part of their transition from fertility to infertility. Understanding the shift and its associated symptoms can help alleviate some of the stress women might experience as it approaches.
Night sweats are one of the most common menopause symptoms, but what are they and how do perimenopausal night sweats differ? Read on to discover.
What Is Perimenopause?
Perimenopause refers to the stage preceding menopause where women experience the majority of symptoms. Menopause is considered the day a woman hasn't had a period for 12 consecutive months and is no longer fertile. Typically, women find themselves in perimenopause during their mid 40s and 50s. Throughout the whole menopausal transition, hormonal fluctuations can trigger an array of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats. Woman who no longer have periods are considered postmenopausal.
What Are Perimenopausal Night Sweats?
Night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause: nearly 75% of menopausal women will encounter them.
Nocturnal hyperhidrosis, as night sweats are known medically, are the nighttime equivalent of hot flashes and are felt as intense bursts of heat causing excessive perspiration, heart palpitations, and flushing.
Night sweat severity varies from woman to woman, but generally, the episodes include sweat, heat, and anxious feelings that have a negative effect on sleep and energy levels. While the exact cause of night sweats is unclear, research has shown that they are related to hormonal imbalance. It's thought that sharp shifts in hormone levels can deceive the temperature-regulating hypothalamus and lead it to believe that the body needs cooling. The result is experienced as a night sweat.
How Can I Avoid Night Sweats and Relieve the Discomfort?
The key to combating and alleviating night sweats is to keep hormone levels as balanced as possible. Simple lifestyle changes can be made to achieve this. Although remaining motivated can sometimes be difficult, the benefits of enacting the changes below include making perimenopause an easier transition.
- Exercise for half an hour a day
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Increase vitamin B and E intake
- Practice yoga or mediation to relieve stress
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Avoid hot and spicy foods
- Take cool showers before bed
- Sleep under removable layers and opt for natural, breathable fabrics
If you are suffering from night sweats, try adopting healthy lifestyle changes. In more severe cases, however, treatments - including herbal supplements and pharmaceutical medications - are also available. Consult your doctor before adopting any of these treatment plans.
- The National Institute of Health. "Signs of the Menopausal Transition" www.nih.gov
- Boston Women's Health Collective. "Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances". Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2006.
- Von Muhlen, DG, et al. "A community-based study of menopause symptoms and estrogen replacement in older women". Maturitas. Sept 1995; 22(2):71-8.