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Night Sweats—Not Just For Women

Medically Reviewed by

What is Andropause?

Roughly 4-5 million men in the U.S. suffer from “andropause,” the male equivalent of female menopause. Only 5-10% will ever seek treatment, however, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As men age, male hormones, known as androgens, gradually decrease over time, and by age 40 symptoms of a hormonal imbalance  may begin to occur. These range from low energy, depression, reduced muscle mass, and erectile dysfunction, to insomnia, increased body fat, and difficulty concentrating. Men may also experience physical symptoms such as persistent night sweats, which can be due to low testosterone levels affecting the sweat glands. This is a common issue for the aging male, as hormonal changes can lead to temperature disturbances at night while sleeping.

Night Sweats, Men Have Them Too

While night sweats can be the result of a myriad of medical conditions including heart problems, endocrine disorders, and certain cancers, men nearing middle age may simply be entering a period of male menopause. In fact, testosterone levels begin to diminish at a rate of about 1% each year after age 30, leading to testosterone deficiency. Night sweating usually starts with a flushing of the skin on the face and moves throughout the trunk of the body. As this happens, the body begins to perspire, often leaving the individual in a cold sweat. Testosterone decline can contribute to excessive sweating during the night, causing discomfort and disrupted sleep.

What Causes Night Sweats?

While women get night sweats because of diminished estrogen levels in the body during menopause, men get night sweats as well. Male night sweats are an inconvenient reality few men like to talk about. Sweats, caused by hot flashes that can last up to four minutes, disrupt sleep and cause discomfort due to intense heat, or a chill. Just like women, men get night sweats because of hormonal changes within the body. When testosterone levels drop in middle age, the temperature center in the brain’s hypothalamus receives false messages signaling that the body is overheated. When this occurs, blood vessels naturally expand in an attempt to release heat and cool the body. Obstructive sleep apnea can also contribute to testosterone levels decline, further exacerbating the issue. While some men will never experience hormone levels low enough to cause hot flashes or night sweats, others will suffer varying levels of discomfort.

Night Sweats in Men—Androgen Deprivation

Night sweats also occur in men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer. The intentional reduction of testosterone in the body triggers the brain’s thermal center, just as it does in middle age. A reduction in human growth hormone and cortisol in males may be partially responsible for hot flashes and night sweats as well.

Because the male hormone testosterone stimulates the growth of cancer cells in the prostate, reducing levels (either temporarily or long-term) can aid in the treatment of the disease. The majority of men receiving androgen deprivation therapy (70%-80%) suffer hot flashes and night sweats as a result.

Decrease Male Night Sweats Naturally

There are a number of things men can do naturally to lessen the frequency of night sweats.

These include:

  • Avoiding spicy foods at dinner that can raise body temperature.
  • Not eating before bedtime since digestion raises body temperature.
  • Avoiding foods like pickles, citrus fruit, tomatoes, and white sugar close to bedtime.
  • Refraining from alcohol consumption that can raise body temperature prior to bedtime.
  • Avoiding intense physical exercise directly before sleep.
  • Reducing the consumption of caffeine, and heavy, or fatty foods throughout the day.
  • Avoiding rapid weight gain to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Avoiding antipyretic, over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen.

For men experiencing low testosterone, starting testosterone therapy might be necessary. Hormone replacement therapy for low testosterone, human growth hormone, and cortisol may provide the necessary relief from hot flashes and night sweats in andropausal men. These therapies help restore hormone production and balance. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be delivered through intra-muscular injections, transdermal gels or patches, sub-dermal implants, or oral medications. Once optimal hormone levels are achieved, many of the symptoms related to "male menopause" are reduced or eliminated altogether.


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