In This Article
In This Article
Yes, men can get hot flashes too.
Hot flashes (or hot flushes) are a sudden feeling of hot skin and increased sweating. They can last from seconds to a few minutes long and are uncomfortable but not dangerous. They typically occur in women undergoing menopause or perimenopause.1
Though hot flashes are associated more with women, men can also experience hot flashes. Hot flashes in men occur for the same reason they do for women: hormonal imbalances.
Hot flashes occur during menopause because of a sudden drop in women’s estrogen and a sharply fluctuating level of hormones in general.
“Hot flashes are caused by blood vessels dilating or increasing their diameter because of hormonal imbalance. Because of this, blood rushes to the area causing sweating and a feeling of warm skin,” explains our in-house medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.
Because men don’t suddenly experience low testosterone levels in the same way, hot flashes are a rarer occurrence for them. Typically, they only happen due to a sharp and sudden testosterone deficiency.2
There is no major difference between how men and women experience hot flashes.
Both female and male hot flashes involve intense heat, sweating, and flushed skin. People who experience hot flash symptoms may also feel palpitations or a quickened heartbeat. Mood changes also can occur.
The main difference is that hot flashes for women are linked to estrogen levels, whereas male hot flashes are linked to testosterone levels.
Treating hot flashes in men and women also follows the same principles. The majority of treatments involve the use of hormone therapies or comfort management when hot flashes occur.
Hot flashes are different from night sweats. Night sweating occurs when a person sweats excessively throughout the night. This can be caused by sleeping in a warm temperature or experiencing a fever.
“More serious medical conditions like infections can cause night sweats and may warrant specialist consult when associated with other conditions,” says Dr. Mira.
In comparison, hot flashes are not prolonged and can occur regardless of external temperatures.
A cold flash is the opposite of a hot flash, which is when the body suddenly feels very cold, as if experiencing chills.
This is a reaction of the hypothalamus to a perceived high body temperature that it must immediately address.
Cold flashes will typically follow hot flashes as the spike in body temperature fades. This is experienced as chills and shivering.
Hot flashes in men can result from either hormonal treatments or natural changes in testosterone levels.
This hormone imbalance causes the hypothalamus to regulate body temperature incorrectly and create a sudden hot flush.
Because the hypothalamus is in charge of regulating body temperature, studies suggest that it misinterprets the drop in hormonal levels as the body getting too warm. To help the body cool as a response, the hypothalamus tries to dissipate body heat via a hot flash.
The hypothalamus aims to maintain your body temperature at around 37℃. To increase this temperature, the brain triggers the body to shiver. To decrease the temperature, the brain triggers the body to sweat. The hypothalamus’ overreaction is what is considered a hot flash.
Hot flushes in men can occur as a result of androgen deprivation therapy in men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.2
Androgen deprivation treatment or therapy (ADT) is a medical treatment for reducing androgen production in the testicles. Androgens are a class of hormones that give biological males their masculine traits, with testosterone being a primary one.3
Androgen deprivation therapy is used to treat prostate cancer. It stymies prostate cancer growth by reducing testosterone production alongside other androgens, which increase the growth of prostate cancer cells.3
Not all hormone treatments cause the same amount of hot flushes in men. The hormone blocker goserelin, for example, has been shown to cause more hot flashes in men than the antiandrogen bicalutamide.16
Apart from hormone therapy, men can also experience a sudden drop in testosterone production that isn’t medically induced.
Some men experience a syndrome called “andropause,” a sudden drop in testosterone production in men aged around 50, though male menopause may be experienced as early as the mid-40s.4
“Men typically lose 1% of their testosterone levels starting at age 40. The speed of decline varies according to genetics, body composition, and environmental factors,” says Dr. Mira.
This “male menopause” is not a normal condition. Men do experience a decrease in androgen production as they age, but it’s typically a very gradual change. Andropause, on the other hand, is a sharp, severe decrease that may need medical attention when associated with systemic conditions.
Andropause may also be accompanied by erectile dysfunction, mood swings, and other symptoms apart from hot flashes.
Other conditions that cause hormonal imbalances can also produce hot flushes.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are conditions where the thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormone. Both conditions may also produce hot flashes, though it is more likely with hyperthyroidism.5
Both anxiety and stress can also cause hot flashes.6
Anxiety may trigger an existing propensity or the condition causing hot flashes. Panic attacks also have many similar effects on the body, such as palpitations, sweating, and even increased body temperature.
Stress also releases a hormone called cortisol which may also trigger a hot flash, especially when a condition that causes hormone imbalance already exists.
Some other medications may cause hot flashes.15
Eating too many processed sugars can lead to sugar crashes which may trigger hot flashes.10
Highly processed sugars enter the bloodstream more quickly and trigger a rapid insulin response from the pancreas. This influx of fast-acting insulin causes blood sugar to then also drastically drop.
“Sugar also increases whole body inflammation, which can lead to worse generalized symptoms,” says Dr. Mira.
Caffeine can also increase the chances of triggering a hot flash.11 In general, hot drinks and spicy foods consumed in excess might cause an overreaction by the body, triggering a hot flash.
If you are already suffering from hot flashes, living or working in a high-stress environment can only make the symptoms worse. Stress causes the body to release large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol, which may trigger a hot flash.
Vices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also contribute to hot flashes.13 They also negatively impact overall health, which could worsen both the occurrence of hot flashes and other related health concerns.
Obesity and being overweight also increase the risk and intensity of hot flashes.13
Hot flashes are not usually serious, but they can be very uncomfortable or even disruptive to everyday life. The sudden change in body temperature can be intolerable in social gatherings or make sleeping difficult. Some men also find it difficult to deal with the mood changes that accompany them.
Hot flushes in men, just like in women, can be managed in a variety of ways.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet improve all aspects of how the brain regulates the body.
While simply living healthy may not drastically affect an underlying condition, being fit may reduce hot flashes.
Some ways to improve one’s overall health are quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and eating nutrient-dense foods.
Experiencing hot flashes may be stressful, which may lead to more hot flashes.
If anxiety or high stress levels are a concern, you should consider therapy or counseling.
While this may also not impact underlying health concerns without medical treatment, you may be introduced to methods to help stay calm when hot flashes occur or prevent them altogether.
Since hot flashes in men are caused by low testosterone, either restoring testosterone levels or fixing the hormone imbalance may reduce hot flashes.7
Increasing testosterone is not an option in many cases, especially for those taking prostate cancer treatment. Taking female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may relieve hot flashes for men.2 However, take note that this also comes with a different set of side effects.
There are also several antidepressant medicines that may help manage hot flashes.
A study has shown that venlafaxine, medroxyprogesterone, and cyproterone effectively reduced hot flashes in men.8 The study also noted serious drug-related side-effects, so such medications should only be under medical supervision.
Another study notes the effectiveness of using antidepressants desvenlafaxine, paroxetine, citalopram, and fluoxetine in reducing hot flashes by as much as 50% in men.9
The same study also recommends gabapentin, an anticonvulsant medication for seizures and neuropathic pain. This is a non-hormonal medication which means it can be used alongside prostate cancer therapy to not stimulate cancer cell growth.
“Antidepressant medications have some side effects that vary from person to person. Therefore, it is important to seek consult from a professional,” says Dr. Mira.
Vitamin E has been shown in at least one study to significantly decrease the occurrence of hot flashes in menopausal women.14 The study mentions that there was no impact on anxiety or sexual function.
The National Institute on Aging does not recommend the herb black cohosh, soy, or synthetic dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) as medications for hot flashes.13 These herbs and supplements have not yet been proven to significantly reduce hot flashes in replicable clinical trials.
Such posited “natural” cures may come with undocumented or under-researched side effects. Always consult your doctor before self-administering such treatments.
If hot flashes cannot be avoided or mitigated, the next best course of action is to manage them as they occur.
Addressing the discomfort head-on by keeping your room cool or taking a cold to lukewarm shower may help. Avoid tight-fitting clothing outdoors or wearing too many layers to help manage any sudden symptoms. You must also get eight hours of sleep each night to avoid getting bothersome symptoms. Make sure to drink lots of water, too.
For those who experience erectile dysfunction or a reduced sex drive due to androgen deprivation therapy or male menopause, your sex life may have to adjust.
Hot flashes are uncomfortable but only last for a few minutes at most. If symptoms last 10 minutes or longer or are heightened, seek medical help.
Note that they should not occur alongside severe headache, abdominal pain, or chest discomfort. If the hot flashes are a symptom of ongoing medical treatment or accompany the aforementioned symptoms, monitor the duration and intensity of the feeling and report it to your care team at your next checkup.