“Night sweats” occur when you experience episodes of sweating that soak your pajamas or sheets at night. Hot flashes and night sweats are often linked to hormonal imbalances among women, especially during menopause. But men can experience hot flashes and night sweats too.
Night sweats in men are sometimes linked to low levels of testosterone, or “low T.” Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It stimulates your sperm production, supports your sex drive, and helps build your bone and muscle mass. To help relieve night sweats and other symptoms of low T, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy.
Night sweats can also be caused by other conditions. If you’re experiencing them, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan.
“Low” T is a relatively common hormonal condition in men. It happens when you produce levels of levels of testosterone that are lower than normal. It’s also known as male hypogonadism.
As men age, it’s normal for your testosterone levels to drop. According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone levels typically decline by about 1 percent per year starting around age 30 or 40. This natural phenomenon isn’t generally considered low T. But if your testosterone levels decline at a faster rate, you may be diagnosed with low T.
The symptoms of low T can vary from one case to another. They may include:
- low energy
- enlarged breasts
- increased body fat
- erectile dysfunction
- low libido
- hot flashes
Low T can be caused by a variety of things, including:
- injury or infection of your testicles
- tumors or other diseases affecting your pituitary gland
- some chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and chronic liver disease like cirrhosis
- some genetic conditions, such as hemochromatosis, myatonic dystrophy, Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome
- certain medications, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments
Low T is only one of several potential causes of night sweats. In some cases, they are caused by other medical conditions. Night sweats can also result from:
- blood cancers, like lymphoma
- adrenal fatigue
- hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid
- infections, including HIV/AIDS
- prostate cancer
If you experience night sweats, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
If your doctor suspects you have low T, they will likely order blood tests to check your testosterone levels. A value under 200-300 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter (ng/dL) of blood is generally considered too low.
If your testosterone levels are low, your doctor may order additional tests or evaluations to determine the cause of your hormonal imbalance. If your testosterone levels are normal, they may check you for other potential causes of night sweats.
To treat night sweats and other symptoms of low T, your doctor may recommend testosterone replacement therapy. It can be administered using a variety of products, such as:
- topical gel
- skin patches
Testosterone replacement therapy can help alleviate symptoms of low T, including night sweats. But it isn’t entirely without risk. Side effects can include:
- breast enlargement
- edema, or fat buildup in your lower limbs
- increased production of red blood cells
- sleep apnea
- prostate enlargement
If you have already have prostate cancer, testosterone therapy is not advised. It can make the tumor grow.
Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of testosterone replacement therapy. They can help you decide if it’s the best option for you. If you’re at heightened risk of prostate cancer, they may advise against testosterone replacement therapy. According to the Hormone Health Network, you may be more likely to develop prostate cancer if you’re:
- over the age of 50
- over the age of 40 and have a family history of prostate cancer
- African American
If you have any of these risk factors, and you decide to undergo testosterone replacement therapy, your doctor should monitor you for signs of prostate cancer while you’re receiving treatment. Testosterone therapy has been shown to stimulate growth of prostate cancer in people who already have the cancer.
Depending on the underlying cause of your low testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend other treatments. Never rely on over-the-counter supplements to treat night sweats or low T. They aren’t proven to work and they aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration either.
If you’re experiencing night sweats caused by low T, treating your low testosterone levels may help relieve them. If you continue to experience night sweats on a regular basis, despite following your doctor’s recommended treatment plan, make a follow-up appointment. They may prescribe other forms of treatment or check for other underlying medical conditions.