It is estimated that more than 80% of all women will suffer night sweats during menopause. Fortunately, only about 20% of them will have symptoms severe enough to warrant treatment. There are many therapies available that may help reduce the severity of the condition, including herbal treatments such as black cohosh, soy, and motherwort. In severe cases, a physician may suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Night sweats during menopause are caused by spikes in estrogen levels and the reaction these levels have on the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that controls body temperature. The swings in estrogen levels cause the hypothalamus to react as if body heat has risen, which results in excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, and shallow breathing. HRT can help relieve unstable estrogen levels, which often cures or lessens the incidence of many menopausal symptoms, including night sweats. Some researchers believe that long-term HRT can have dangerous side effects, so it is typically only prescribed in chronic conditions, and the treatment is carefully monitored.
Many alternative methods are available to help control night sweats during menopause. Clinical studies seem to indicate that black cohosh, chasteberry, and dong quai may provide relief for some sufferers. Herbs that have a cooling effect on the body, such as chickweed and violet, may also prove helpful. Hot flashes and night sweats may decrease the levels of vitamins B and C, so eating foods that contain high levels of these vitamins is recommended as a part any treatment strategy.
Another popular alternative remedy for night sweats during menopause is licorice root. It can be taken as a capsule or prepared as a tea. Licorice is believed to regulate hormone levels in women and has a long history of use. Documentation of its medicinal use goes back to the ancient Chinese, who used it to treat various ailments, including night sweats, sore throat, and insomnia.
Research seems to indicate that there may be certain triggers associated with night sweats during menopause. Some common triggers are generally believed to be spicy food, alcohol, and tobacco. Doctors recommend keeping a notepad near the bedside to document night sweats, which could make it easier to associate them with a trigger. If the sufferer sees a trend which shows night sweats occurring after ingesting certain foods, then eliminating the food may prove helpful in controlling the problem.
Careful control of environment temperature is also a simple, but effective, way to help manage night sweats. Lowering the thermostat to keep the room cooler or running a fan should at least make the sweats less severe. Wearing special pajamas made of fabric designed to absorb sweat should also prove helpful. This type of fabric is commonly referred to as “wicking” fabric.