A hot flash is a feeling of intense heat that isn’t triggered by your immediate surroundings. It often appears suddenly. Hot flashes are commonly linked to women undergoing menopause. However, men can also experience this condition.
Women experience hot flashes from a sudden fluctuation in hormones as they age. On the other hand, men don’t experience a natural sharp decline in testosterone. In fact, men experience a less than 2 percent drop in testosterone every year after 30. This is a healthy and steady decline.
Androgen deprivation therapy
Hot flashes in men are most likely to occur as a result of a prostate cancer treatment called androgen deprivation therapy. This treatment works by restricting the production of testosterone so that it can’t stimulate cancer cell growth. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of men who undergo this form of therapy have hot flashes.
Hot flashes in men often coincide with other symptoms like erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and mood swings. These symptoms may be the result of stress, depression, or anxiety.
Low testosterone levels or “low T” can result from a variety of causes, but men with this condition can experience hot flashes as well.
- a sensation of warmth that comes on suddenly
- heavy sweating
- reddening of the skin
While the triggers of hormone decrease differ for men and women, the symptoms of hot flashes are identical in both sexes. The sensation of warmth and flushing is felt most intensely in the head and trunk areas. Heavy sweating and a reddening of the skin may accompany these symptoms.
Such symptoms may pass quickly, averaging about four minutes, and end in a cold sweat. Some men and women will experience these symptoms infrequently, while others may experience them up to 10 times a day.
Most men stop having flashes within three to four months of finishing their androgen deprivation treatment. Men who stay on the therapy may continue to experience these symptoms.
Treatment and prevention
Improving your diet, sleep patterns, and overall fitness may help reduce discomfort during hot flashes.
One study found that taking antidepressants, progestin hormones including Megestrol, or antiandrogen hormones such as Cyproterone may help treat hot flashes in men. Estradiol and testosterone replacement therapy can also help. It is important to note that testosterone replacement therapy is contraindicated in men with a history of prostate cancer since it may stimulate cancer cells. Talk to your doctor before taking any off-label medications.
Prevent hot flashes by avoiding common triggers, such as:
- spicy food
- warm room temperatures
- tight or heavy clothing