When most people think of hot flashes, the picture of a woman going through menopause is what comes to mind. Yes, it is true about 70% of women going through menopause will at some point deal with this very uncomfortable event. Even though it is rare, men may also experience this discomfort of sweating and flushing from hot flashes. According to Harvard Medical School, although it’s more common for women than men to experience hot flashes, men can find them just as discomforting as middle-aged women. If you or a loved one is suffering from these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you speak with your medical provider for early detection and treatment.
Symptoms of Hot Flashes in Men
Men that have received androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer are very likely to suffer from symptoms of a hot flash. Hot flashes in men have the same symptoms as those in women:
- A sudden feeling of warmth or flushing most intense over the head and trunk
- Hot flashes are often accompanied by visible redness and sweating that can be profuse
- Most common hot flashes occur at night
- Most hot flashes are brief, lasting an average of 4 minutes and often leaving behind a cold sweat
- Hot flashes may be infrequent and mild or may be quite troublesome
- Hot flashes may occur 6 to 10 times a day
- Some people report anxiety, palpitations or irritability during hot flashes
Men who develop hot flashes during androgen deprivation usually recover in 3 to 4 months after stopping treatment. Most men going through permanent androgen deprivation do not get over hot flashes. 72% of patients have said that hot flashes interfered with sleep. 59% have reported that hot flashes have interfered with enjoyment of life. If hot flashes become particularly bothersome, consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options
What Causes Hot Flashes in Men
Hot flashes in men are mostly hormone related, but food reaction and some underlying diseases can also cause this discomfort. Now let's go to details and find out the causes of hot flashes in men.
In the United States more than 25 million men and more than 408 million men worldwide have reported male menopause or adropause. Most of the times men think these hot flashes are night sweats. If hot flashes are accompanied by weight gain, slowed hair growth or insomnia, adropause may be the reason.
2. Hormonal Causes
PADAM (partial androgen deficiency of the aging male) occurs when the androgen level drops below normal. As men age, their bodies produce less testosterone and androgen. When the androgen production decreases so does a man’s testosterone production. When both of these drop below normal levels, a man may experience hot flashes or night sweats.
Another noticeable side effect of PADAM is lack of sex drive. Most often these decreases take place in a man's 50's, although it has been known to happen while a male is in his 30's and even as late as their 60's.
3. Food Reaction
"You are what you eat" or so you have been told. What you eat may be the cause of your hot flashes. The only way to know is to record everything you eat for several days. For example, food additive MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) could be the cause of your hot flashes. Make sure to notate foods that contain MSG. If within 24 hours of eating the said foods you have hot flashes, you should eliminate it from your diet for 48 hours. After this clean out period if you do not notice hot flashes for 24 hours, MSG may the cause.
4. Disease-Related Causes
- Hormone deprivation therapy can cause this as well. Medications such as nifedipine, calcitonin and cephalexin have been known to cause hot flashes.
- Diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, prostate and testicular cancer may cause hot flashes. Both prostate and testicular cancer cause hormone levels in men to fluctuate causing hot flushes in men.
- If you have been suffering hot flashes or night sweats combined with pain in the testicles contact your doctor right away.
How to Deal With Hot Flashes in Men
1. Eliminate Triggers
If your hot flashes are caused by certain foods, just simply eliminating these foods from your diet will provide relief. If it is caused by some medication, talk to your doctor to get a substitute for it.
2. Herbal Remedies
- According to some studies, black cohosh (an herbal preparation) can reduce hot flashes. This has become more popular in the US and is supported for short term use (up to 6 months) by the North American Menopause Society. Although the studies have not been considered rigorous enough to firmly substantiate any benefit, research continues to determine both the effectiveness and safety of using black cohosh.
- It is believed that a high consumption of phytoestrogens from sources such as soy, red clover, ginseng and yam may relieve hot flashes.
- Some studies exist on the effect of ginseng for relief of menopausal symptoms.
3. Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help rise the low testosterone in men who suffer from hypogonadism, causing the body unable to produce enough testosterone.
You can have hormone replacement therapy in the following 3 ways:
- Get muscular injections every 2 to 3 weeks.
- Wear testosterone patches every day. They can be attached on the back, arms, buttocks or abdomen.
- Apply testosterone gels to the shoulders, arms or abdomen.
But there is not enough evidence to find out whether HRT can benefit healthy men with age-related testosterone decline.
4. Female Hormone
Men suffering from prostate cancer are not able to take testosterone, but female hormones (estrogen and progesterons) can be used to treat hot flashes. In one study, 83% men taking estradiol (estrogen) reported relief and 40% reported swelling and/or tenderness of the breasts. The trial however was not long enough to rule out possible cardiovascular risks. Studies of megestrol (Megace) and medroxyprogestrone (Provera), 80% to 90% participators reported reduction of hot flashes. The side effects may include weight gain and bloating, as well as an increase in PSA levels for some patients.
More recently antidepressants have been used to treat hot flashes. Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors such as Paxil have been effective. Effexor, another-antidepressant, also brings positive results. Both of them are well tolerated but Effexor (venlafaxine) can raise blood pressure and Paxil (paroxetine) can cause sexual dysfunction which is not an issue for most men undergoing androgen deprivation.
Antiseizures such as gabapentin (Neurontin) have shown promise. The first successful tests were achieved in men although it has rapidly gained use in women as well. The first study showed a 70% reduction in both frequency and severity of hot flashes in women and dizziness is the most common side effect.
If you want to know more about what causes hot flashes in men and how to deal with it, check out this video: