Hot Flashes In Men

Hot flashes are a very common topic when looking at women’s health. One study suggests that up to 88% of women experience hot flashes as they reach menopause. With surgical menopause, the prevalence of hot flashes increases to about 92%1.

The fact that men can also experience hot flashes is often overlooked. Yet, there is a significant number of men who complain about hot flashes too. The hot flashes are often accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms. This generally includes night sweats too.

One study finds that up to 33.1% of non-castrated men experience hot flashes2. An estimated 1.3% of men also complain about hot flashes on a daily basis.

This article looks at hot flashes in men. We consider what exactly a hot flash is. The post also considers the possible causes behind hot flashes in the male population. Furthermore, we look at a few effective treatment strategies to reduce hot flashes.

What Is A Hot Flash?

To understand why a man experiences hot flashes, it is important to first consider what a hot flash is. This would also provide more details on how to treat hot flashes—an understanding of what a hot flash also provides more details on why a man may experience it.

Many people can experience hot flashes, including men. There is a similarity between men and women regarding hot flashes. This would be the fact that hormones are generally the cause of both genders.

The specific hormones involved differ between men and women, however. This is why men may be advised to consumed estrogen-blocking foods when they have hot flashes. Women will not be provided with the same recommendations.

A lot of men will experience additional symptoms too. This will often include night sweats. Flushes can also occur. These issues are generally referred to as vasomotor symptoms.

The pathophysiology and treatment3 of hot flashes often depend on why it happens. Sometimes, it is caused by naturally fluctuating hormones. In other cases, certain diseases can cause it. There are some hormone therapy treatments that may also lead to hot flashes.

Who Can Experience Hot Flashes?

At the moment, medical experts do not have a full understanding of hot flashes. There are suggestions for the pathophysiology that is associated with the occurrence of hot flashes. Still, further research is being conducted to provide more accurate evidence.

There is some evidence that certain men seem to be more likely to experience hot flashes than others.

Hormones play a big role in the development of hot flashes. With a condition like prostate cancer, a man will often be exposed to deprivation therapy. In such a case, androgen hormones are reduced in the body. This may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer becoming worse.

Deprivation hormone therapy also brings along an unpleasant side-effect—many men who receive this therapy experience hot flashes. Thus, prostate cancer patients seem to be at risk of hot flashes.

There is also a concern regarding a more significant decline in testosterone. When sex hormones in the male body decline significantly, it may also lead to a risk of hot flashes.

This is generally only applicable to older men. Testosterone naturally declines after a man reaches 30. Sometimes, the decline happens faster than expected.

What Happens When You Have A Hot Flash?

The majority of research related to hot flashes are conducted on women. There are a few studies that show data on male subjects too. Hormones are often to blame. Some studies suggest that other alterations in the human body may be at play too.

In one study4, researchers describe dysfunction in the central thermoregulatory centers. This is also sometimes referred to as the thermoregulatory nucleus. A dysfunction in the thermoregulatory nucleus will lead to a problem in the regulation of the body’s hemostatic range. In turn, this affects the individual’s core body temperature.

Some people do seem to have a smaller thermoregulatory nucleus zone. This zone refers to what the body would consider a normal temperature. If the temperature rises toward the upper threshold, then sweating will start. With a small thermoregulatory zone, hot flashes may occur when the core body temperature increases too much.

This is generally why a person may experience a hot flash. It refers to the process that occurs internally. There are several factors that can affect the thermoregulatory nucleus. An imbalance in male sex hormones may be a cause behind a dysfunction in the thermoregulatory nucleus.

What Does A Hot Flash Feel Like?

Most people will describe a hot flash as a sudden warm, and flushing feeling. In many cases, the hot flushing starts at the head. It may move down toward the body itself. A lot of men will find that both their head and chest are affected.

The feelings of warmth and flushing tend to come on quickly. The episode can last for as long as 10 minutes at a time. The frequency of hot flashes tends to differ from one patient to the next. Some will experience hot flashes more frequently than others.

Common Causes For Hot Flashes In Men

It is important for men to have an idea of what causes hot flashes. The same goes for night sweats. This can help a man get a better understanding of why they may experience hot flashes.

It also helps men determine their own risks of developing vasomotor symptoms. This also helps men get an idea of what severe hot flashes may be a sign of.

A lot of publications would link prostate cancer to hot flashes in male patients. It is important to understand that hot flashes are not listed as prostate cancer symptoms. Men who have prostate cancer are still likely to experience hot flashes, however. This is generally due to the cancer treatment that is used.

Prostate cancer treatment often includes the use of deprivation therapy. This reduces certain hormones in the male body. In turn, there is a possibility that the man may experience hot flashes as a side-effect. In such a case, treating hot flashes can be particularly difficult. Hormone therapies will not be the answer. Instead, a doctor will have to consider alternative treatment options.

Men with fluctuating hormone levels can also develop hot flashes. This is sometimes the case with older men. Men over 40 are at risk of low testosterone. When testosterone levels decline a lot, hot flashes may follow. At the moment, researchers are not too sure why this happens. Alterations with the thermal control center in the patient’s brain are suspected to be affected by the low testosterone.

What Can Hot Flashes In Men Be A Symptom Or Side Effect Of?

Hot flashes will generally not be a symptom of prostate cancer. Instead, it is considered to be a possible sign of low testosterone. In men receiving deprivation therapy, up to 80% will experience hot flashes. This is because deprivation therapy causes a decline in testosterone levels.

Healthy men will experience a reduction in the rate at which testosterone is produced. This starts to happen at the age of 30 in most men. The reduction is too insignificant to produce side-effects. There are also men who experience a more rapid decline in circulating testosterone levels. In such a case, hot flashes may be a sign of testosterone deficiency. This is sometimes also referred to as andropause.

How Are These Causes Of Men’s Hot Flashes Different From Those Of Women?

In both men and women, hormones often cause hot flashes. The specific hormones involved, however, differ. In men, testosterone is to be blamed. When testosterone levels decline, there is a risk of hot flashes. Among female patients, estrogen may rather be the problem. Women with a history of breast cancer also seem to be at risk of hot flashes. Those undergoing surgical menopause have the highest risk of experiencing hot flashes.

Drug Treatment For Male Hot Flashes And Night Sweats

There are several treatments suggested treating hot flashes. It is important for men to be aware of all possible options. Men should also take note of treatment side effects. Some of the drugs used to help manage hot flashes could produce certain side-effects.

A doctor may also ask the man about the accompanying symptoms. This can help the doctor identify a potential cause for the night sweats and hot flashes. In such a case, addressing the cause may yield effective results.

What Medications Can Help With Hot Flashes And Night Sweats In Men?

Hormone therapy will often be recommended for men with hot flashes. The specific hormones used to depend on why the patient experience vasomotor symptoms.

  • In the case of prostate cancer, testosterone levels are reduced with deprivation therapy. Thus, testosterone replacement therapy is not an option. In such a case, female hormones may be provided instead.

  • Estradiol may help to reduce the hot flashes. The problem is, side-effects may include swelling in the breasts. Some men complain about tenderness in their breasts too.

  • Megestrol or medroxyprogesterone have been suggested too. According to one publication5, up to 90% of men may experience reduced hot flashes with these hormone drugs. Unfortunately, there are also side-effects linked to these drugs. Side-effects include weight gain, as well as bloating.

  • There are other treatments available. Paxil has been suggested. This is a selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It is primarily used as an antidepressant medicine. In some cases, Paxil may reduce hot flashes in men.

  • Venlafaxine, also known as Effexor, has also shown promising results. This is another type of antidepressant. Men with high blood pressure should avoid Venlafaxine, however. It may cause an elevation in blood pressure sometimes.

  • Erectile dysfunction is another possible side-effect of antidepressant drugs. Thus, men need to carefully consider the pros and cons of each suggested treatment option.

Natural Treatments For Male Hot Flashes And Night Sweats

Apart from pharmaceutical drugs, a few natural treatments have also been suggested.

  • Men should consider their diet if they are complaining about hot flashes. Some foods may increase the risk of hot flashes. A well-balanced diet can be a useful option to consider.

  • Acupuncture may also help manage hot flashes. There are mixed results regarding this suggestion.

  • Keeping the house and environment cool is another useful way when trying to reduce hot flashes. Light clothing can be helpful, as well as using layers of bedding. This ensures layers can be removed until the patient feels more comfortable in bed. Natural fibers like cotton and silk are also known to provide a cooler feeling compared to artificial materials.

  • Other tips include drinking iced drinks and reducing the intake of coffee. A reduction in nicotine may also be helpful.

Conclusion

Hot flashes can happen in men too. This can be uncomfortable and contribute to night sweats. There are various reasons why this can happen. Certain prostate cancer treatments contribute to hot flashes. Low testosterone levels can also cause hot flashes. Several treatment options are available. These include both natural and pharmaceutical options.

Sources

  1. Research in Nursing & Health. (1985) The prevalence of hot flash and associated variables among perimenopausal women. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3852361
  2. Journal of Menopause. (2003) Hot flushes in a male population aged 55, 65, and 75 years living in the community of Linkoping, Sweden. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12544681
  3. The Oncologist Journal. (2011) Hot Flashes: A Review of Pathophysiology and Treatment Modalities. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3233302/
  4. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. (2002) Pathophysiology and treatment of hot flashes. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12440557/
  5. Harvard Health Publishing. Hot flashes in men: An update. [online] Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Hot-flashes-in-men-An-update
  6. Cleveland Clinic. Bioidentical Hormones. [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15660-bioidentical-hormones
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of Zayed MD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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