Hot flashes and night sweats are a serious problem for many women during perimenopause and menopause. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that may help ease your symptoms. Some new research suggests that progesterone replacement therapy may be an option to reduce the severity and number of hot flashes and night sweats for some women.
Hot flashes can cause many issues for menopausal women. They can reduce quality of life and interrupt day-to-day activities. Hot flashes at night, also known as night sweats, often make it difficult for women to get good quality sleep. Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most common symptoms of menopause. However, there are many treatment options available! Our providers can help find personalized treatment solutions based on your symptoms and lifestyle. In some cases, this may include hormone therapy with estrogen and/or progesterone as well as lifestyle changes and other treatments.
Progesterone replacement therapy is hormone therapy using the female hormone progesterone. There are several reasons why your hormone doctor may recommend using progesterone. Typically, progesterone and estrogen are both used for menopausal hormone therapy. This is because estrogen alone can make the lining of your uterus thicker, which can increase the risk for endometrial cancer. Of course, in some cases you might take progesterone on its own without estrogen. For instance, some women use progesterone therapy during menopause when they cannot use estrogen. Bioidentical progesterone comes from plants like soy and wild yams. It’s then made into a medication your body can metabolize.
Progesterone plays several important roles in your body. Progesterone is a steroid hormone produced in your ovaries, like estrogen. Estrogen and progesterone are kind of like partners, performing slightly different functions and balancing each other out.
For example, during your premenopausal years, estrogen helps thicken the lining of your uterus after your period, while progesterone helps thin the endometrium lining in preparation for pregnancy. Progesterone levels generally start to rise around ovulation, usually near the middle of your menstrual cycle. By contrast, estrogen levels usually rise following your period and begin to decline leading up to your period. Therefore, you can almost think of estrogen and progesterone as the yin and yang of female hormones.
Of course, while most of us know these hormones as reproductive hormones, they also do other things in your body. For instance, progesterone is a natural diuretic, which can help reduce fluid retention. Also, it may help increase the effectiveness of other hormones, like estrogen, thyroid, and testosterone. Some research even suggests that progesterone may have a calming, sedative effect on the brain. Therefore, some researchers believe it’s important for helping with good quality sleep and also improving mood.
More interestingly for women in perimenopause and menopause is that progesterone replacement therapy by itself may also help improve symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.
While progesterone hasn’t been as extensively researched for menopause symptoms as estrogen has, many researchers are starting to consider how progesterone can play a role in menopause symptom relief. Several recent studies have looked at progesterone-only therapy for hot flashes and night flashes, also known as vasomotor symptoms. For instance, one study, published in the North American Menopause Society’s journal, Menopause, found that women saw approximately a 58% improvement in their hot flash symptoms with progesterone compared to just over 23% for the group who received placebo.
Another study from 2018 saw similar results. The study, published in the journal Climacteric, mentioned that several studies have found women’s hormone care with both estrogen and progesterone have been more effective than estrogen-only options. They also reviewed evidence from progesterone-only menopause treatment and participants who used progesterone replacement therapy saw a 55% drop in their vasomotor symptoms, as well as other evidence that progesterone alone may help with hot flashes.
Therefore, several researchers have suggested that progesterone only treatments may help with hot flashes and sleep disturbances from night sweats. Some even explain that progesterone therapy may be an option for women who cannot take estrogen, though it’s important to discuss treatment options with one of our treatment providers to find treatments recommended for your individual circumstances.
How can we explain why progesterone may help with some women’s hot flashes and night sweats? As we mentioned, research is still ongoing, so there’s no definitive evidence. However, there are some potential explanations.
Menopause symptoms are frequently considered to be the result of declining hormone levels. While estrogen is most often blamed, it may be that low levels of both estrogen and progesterone may lead to uncomfortable hot flashes and night sweats. After all, both of these hormones start to decline during perimenopause, and both play some pretty vital roles in several functions, including the menstrual cycle.
Also, in some cases women with low progesterone levels during menopause may actually have elevated estrogen levels because progesterone cannot keep estrogen in check in the body. This may result in estrogen dominance, which may also lead to vasomotor symptoms. In these cases, taking progesterone may help bring your hormones back into balance to help reduce your symptoms.
In any case, it’s important to work with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, medical history, and treatment options. Help is available for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.
When you need high quality healthcare, our team at HerKare is here to help. We are a health clinic owned and operated by women for women. Our goal is to empower you to take control of your health. Whether you’re dealing with troubling menopause symptoms or need preventative well woman care, our providers are here to help you find personalized solutions. Book an appointment today at one of our convenient locations.