Every day I get emails from women who are thinking about joining me on the MyMT programmes, because they feel over-whelmed with night sweats and hot flushes. Women in their 40’s right through to their 60’s. I am astounded by how many are on HRT or Bio-identical hormones …. the same medical interventions that are supposed to help them reduce their hot flushes, night sweats and anxiety.
Clearly, these interventions are not working for them. It’s so perplexing but as I had this experience too, I now better understand why. It’s tough when all you do every morning is to strip the sheets off the bed, because they are soaked in sweat.
So, I have a question for you:
Did you know that when you are experiencing hot flushes and/or night sweats, this is a sign that your body is under dis-stress and trying to cool down?
Unravelling the physiology of hot flushes, begins with understanding temperature regulation. This is under the control of our hormonal system. So, as we lose oestrogen during our menopause transition, temperature-regulating hormones in the pituitary region of the brain and our thyroid are affected as well.
As I mention in my online Masterclass on Menopause – your reproductive hormones are not the ‘problem’ – menopause is a natural biological event.
The ‘problem’ with our worsening symptoms is that many of us don’t know how to adjust our lifestyle to accommodate changing hormone levels with age. Numerous studies report that if women aren’t changing their lifestyle to accommodate the momentum of hormonal changes from peri-menopause to post-menopause, symptoms might continue, even into the post-menopause years when periods have ceased for a year or more. This is because the decline of oestrogen has effects on our blood vessels, muscles, joints, thyroid, pituitary gland, liver and gut too.
Hormones all work together to keep our body functioning. They are chemical messengers which control all sorts of functions in the body, from heat management, to blood pressure control, to blood sugar regulation to our sleep cycles and feelings of hunger. When menopause arrives, all of these hormones are affected. This includes our thyroid hormones which help to regulate temperature and metabolism.
So, to help you beat the heat, no matter the temperature outside, click through on each of my ‘top-8’ factors that influence the frequency and severity of your hot flushes and night sweats:
It’s not just about reducing sugar and processed food as we age. In menopause, my emphasis is on reducing protein as well. Yes, I know that this goes against what you may have heard, but the amount and timing of your protein intake is crucial. Protein is ‘thermo-genic’ which means ‘heat-generating’. I learnt that years ago in the fitness industry and when I was trying to understand why my hot flushes were so bad, I remembered that high protein diets cause too much stress on the thyroid, liver, kidneys and gut. The result? Lots of sweat as your body tries to cool down. That’s why in the MyMT™ Food Guide, which is both of my different 12 week programmes, I teach you about cooling foods to eat in menopause.
We hear so much about ‘stress’ these days, but when it comes to your hot flushes and night sweats, I’m not just talking about emotional stress. I’m talking about the physical stress on your cells and tissues as you biologically age. For decades, our cells and tissues have been accumulating inflammatory changes, especially if you have been doing a lot of high intensity exercise or you haven’t been sleeping throughout your menopause transition. When you reach menopause and your blood vessels become more constricted with the loss of oestrogen and you aren’t sleeping, your chronic stress hormone, called cortisol, remains higher than normal. When cortisol stays around all day, then your thyroid hormones overwork too. An unhappy thyroid combined with menopause hormonal changes causes your temperature and blood pressure to increase, which then has you wiping your brow with excess sweat as your body tries to get rid of the heat.
Moderation is everything and during menopause, both too much and too little exercise can cause more hot flushes. If you are doing heavy, high-intensity exercise most days or you work in a physically-demanding job such as nursing or farming, then your body doesn’t recover and heal overnight when you don’t sleep. This means that your blood pressure and temperature stay higher overnight. With a higher temperature, your body tries to cool you down. So you sweat more. The same can also be said of women who are mainly sedentary. If you aren’t doing some activity, then there is a risk that you aren’t boosting your cells and tissues with oxygen. This can lead to poor cardiac health which in turn can contribute to worsening hot flushes.
When our heart rate and blood pressure is higher than normal, this increases heat production in the body. As we transition through menopause and we are ageing, our blood vessels lose their elasticity and become ‘stiffer’. Not only are they ageing, but we are losing muscle density as well. What this means is that our muscles (and our sweat glands) change when we lose oestrogen, so our ability to regulate heat and sweating changes too. I talk more about this in my on-demand Masterclass on Menopause which you can read more about HERE.
New genetic research shows that we all have DNA that are receptive to living in either hot or cooler climates. If we are out of sync with the genetically-set DNA, then in menopause, this can cause more discomfort and hot flushes. I have women on my programme from Alice Springs in Australia – as one of the hottest places on the continent, I am so thankful that they have come on board. One of the problems with living in such a hot climate is that we tend to live inside in air-conditioning and this changes our Vitamin D absorption which can dive-down in menopause. Vitamin D is a hormone and because our skin is the largest organ in the body and has numerous oestrogen receptors in it, menopause affects our Vitamin D absorption too. When levels are low, then hot flushes become worse and so too, does calcium absorption and cardiac health. That’s why it’s important that women get their Vitamin D levels checked – even more so when it’s so hot outside as in parts of Australia, that it’s cooler to live inside.
I think many of you would have already discovered that it’s a catch-22 between not sleeping and night sweats – on one hand the night sweats wake you up, but on the other hand, when you can’t stay asleep, your hot flushes, night sweats and feelings of anxiety become worse. Yes? Well, there is a reason for this. When we aren’t sleeping, we aren’t recovering and restoring our immune system overnight. We also aren’t fat-burning or recovering from our day-to-day activities. What then happens, is that our adrenal glands make more cortisol. To do this, they use our lovely calming progesterone, which is also why women in menopause experience more anxiety as well – and it’s also why, in both of the MyMT 12 week programmes, the first module you listen to, is how to sleep all night. It’s that important.
These powerful nutrients are needed to restore hormonal health as you transition through menopause. For example, the beautiful trace mineral called iodine, is a vital component of hormones produced by the thyroid gland that are responsible for a number of important functions in your body. This includes metabolism, nerve and muscle function, regulation of body temperature and blood cell production. If you don’t get enough iodine-rich foods, your hot flushes can become worse. This is why I have a nutritional programme in the MyMT programmes, that is rich in iodine and all the other nutrients that we need during menopause and into the years beyond. My nutritional information comes out of women’s healthy ageing research.
Leaky gut affects the entire body and during menopause, the changes to our gut lining occur with the loss of oestrogen. Our gut lining thins and our ability to maintain a healthy gut microbiome becomes more challenging. Unfortunately this can make depression worse too. Whilst I do recommend seeing a suitable health practitioner in case you have certain medical concerns, so many women have developed leaky-gut (as I did too), that I have researched what to do to turn this around. If this is you, then the continual presence of inflammation in your gut and bowel increases heat in the body. When heat and inflammation remain high, then this leads to poor sleep which sets off night sweats. Turning around our gut health is important as a starting point for renewed health as we age. What to do is now in a stand-alone module called ‘Restore your Grateful Gut in Menopause‘ programme is now available as a stand-alone module for you. Learn more HERE.
When my own hot flushes were troubling me day and night, especially as I moved into post-menopause, I knew I had to get to the bottom of the science of them. Today, hot flushes no longer control me or define me. This is the same for many of the women who are following the strategies I have researched and you can read their Success Stories here.
I don’t want you to still be experiencing hot flushes in your post-menopause years and if you are on HRT, then research suggests that 5 years is long enough.
If you are not coping with your heat regulation, sleep, anxiety, depression, weight or joint problems as you move through menopause and beyond, then will you join me? No matter where you live in the world, I would love to support you to feel like your old-self again.
Whichever programme you choose [Circuit-Breaker for thinner women or Transform Me for women who want to lose weight] then these are currently on my lockdown sale with savings of NZ$50. Please use the promo code ATHOME20 when you purchase. [NZ$249/ AUS$ 236/ UK £130/ CAN$224 – monthly options also apply as I know that many of you are doing it tough at the moment].
This price includes full access to either of the 12 week programmes and optional modules with your lifestyle solutions for those with sore joints or gut health problems and if you are on HRT or Anti-depressants, then I have modules you can access with evidenced lifestyle solutions in them for you. Don’t forget that I have your back every step of the way, so my private coaching is included in this amazing price as well. Please have a listen to the video below when you have time.
Dr Wendy Sweet, PhD [MyMT™ Founder & Coach/ Member: Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine]. Read my story HERE.
- Andrikoula M, Hardiman P, Prelevic G. Menopausal hot flush: is it only a nuisance or also a marker of cardiovascular disease risk?. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2009;25(7):450-454. doi:10.1080/09513590902972067
- Deeche, D. & Dorries, K. (2007). Understanding the pathophysiology of vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that occur in perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause life stages. Arch. Women’s Mental Health, 10: 247–257.
- Mayo Clinic. The science behind a hot flush. Mayo Clinic Online, PDF Handout
- Sharma, S. & Kavuru, M. (2010). Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. International Journal of Endocrinology, Article ID 270832, 1-12.