Night sweats, the perimenopause and HRT

About a year ago, I started sweating at night. In winter and only wearing underwear in bed, I would wake up literally drenched in sweat. Not every night, but two or three nights a week. Sometimes it was so bad that I couldn’t bear to get back into my soaking bed, so I would take myself to the spare room for the rest of the night.

I know that night sweats are a symptom of the menopause. I also know that they can be a symptom of some cancers. Either way, they’re unpleasant and were worsening my already crappy sleep. So I went to the GP. He thought I was a bit young for the menopause, but sent me for blood tests to check. I had to come off the pill for the blood tests, so that my hormones could settle.

And the night sweats stopped immediately.

They didn’t come back when I went back on the pill and the blood tests came back clear.

All through the ridiculously hot summer of 2018, the night sweats stayed away. Then in autumn they came back with a vengeance. This time they were up to five times a week. If the sweating didn’t wake me sufficiently, walking to the spare room did. So I tried putting a towel down on my bed. For someone who sleeps about as well as the princess and the pea, I was amazed that it actually worked and I was able to get back to sleep most of the time.

But I also needed to go back to the doctor.

This time I saw a female doctor. As it happens, she’s the expert on everything to do with women’s health at our surgery. She asked a few questions to rule out the possibility of cancer, then assured me that it was almost certainly the beginning of the menopause. Apparently the perimenopause – the time when your body is moving towards the menopause – can last for up to 10 years.

Trouble sleeping is a symptom of being menopausal. I have had trouble sleeping for just over five years now.

She said the blood test I’d had previously was pointless. The menopause isn’t a straightforward thing and your hormones fluctuate all the time.

There are plenty of symptoms of the menopause that I don’t have – like weight gain, urinary tract infections and ageing of the skin. But the night sweats alone were too much and I couldn’t carry on with them.

‘Right, let’s sort this out!’ she said.

And I loved that. No messing about. No trying a thinner duvet or opening a window. Just sorting it out.

When she mentioned HRT, I was initially hesitant. I thought that was something people went on when they were in full blown menopause. I imagined myself on it one day, but not for a few years. And weren’t there health risks?

She assured me that the health risks are very low. All HRT is doing is replacing the natural hormones your body has lost. And she told me something I would never have thought of – the menopause is actually a fairly new phenomenon. In Elizabethan times, life expectancy for a woman was 35. In Victorian times, it was 49. Women just had a lot of babies and then they died. They didn’t actually go through the menopause.

I felt reassured by that. And I didn’t want the disruption and the discomfort of the night sweats any more.

So I am officially on HRT at the age of 45. I haven’t reached the menopause yet, but I’m on my way there. The night sweats haven’t gone away completely, but I’m down to about once every week or two.

I did hope that maybe it would help my sleep too, but that was obviously a step too far.

Have you reached the menopause? Are you on HRT?

HRT, Menopause, Night sweats the perimenopause and HRT

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I never knew you could go through a peri menopause for so long but I hope the HRT fixes all the night sweats quickly. Oh to be a woman eh?

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    • Thanks very much! 10 years does sound rather a long time, doesn’t it? The HRT is definitely helping, thank goodness.

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  2. I’m not there yet (after all, I am 6 weeks younger than you!) but thanks for speaking out and helping normalize this stuff! Hope you feel better soon.

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    • Thanks very much, I’m definitely sweating less, which is a good thing! This is one of the many things I will happily write about, but probably wouldn’t talk about out loud! Which is very silly, I know.
      Enjoy not being affected while it lasts…

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  3. Sorry you’re going through all this, it must be awful having another thing to add to your sleeping problems. Hooray for understanding doctors though! If only they could all be like her!

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    • Thanks very much! It definitely makes a difference going to the right doctor. I know they’re ‘general’ practitioners, but it seems like they still all have their specialities. I know my usual GP is the skin specialist, so I would never go to any other doctor for a skin problem. Now I will have to remember to always go to this one for ‘women’s’ problems!

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  4. I see what you mean about our different experience. I’ve not really had night sweats at all but my Mum suffered terribly with them. I may have it all to come!

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    • You may do! Or maybe you will avoid that bit. It’s really unpleasant and definitely the last thing I need in the middle of the night.

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  5. Both my mum and grandmother had gone through the monopause completely by 35. I’m 10 years past that and no sign of it happening anytime soon. I remember my mum had hurt patches that needed changing every four days. If she forgot I think we all wanted to kill her as she just flipped! Really hope that doesn’t happen to me as she was hell to live with lol. Right now I’m grateful as I don’t think I’d cope with all my other health issues

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    • It’s amazing that your mum and grandmother went through it so young. You definitely don’t need this on top of all your health issues. I was offered an HRT patch, but I thought I would find it easier just to take a tablet.

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  6. I’m hoping to avoid the sweats as I’m constantly hot anyway! Good for you though going to the GP x

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    • Thanks very much, I’m glad I went. You are always hot, you make me feel cold looking at you! x

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  7. I’m absolutely dreading the menopause but actually, you’ve made me feel much more relaxed about going on HRT. I don’t know why it has such a bad rep. I think things have moved on ten fold since our mums went through it. I’ve heard that it’s your sleep that goes first and mine is pretty terrible so that would fit. Sorry your hasn’t improved all that much 🙁

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    • I hadn’t really worried about going through the menopause, although I remember my mum having a tough time briefly and suddenly losing weight. I’d always imagined myself going on HRT, but was worried about going on it in my mid-40s, but the GP had me totally convinced it was the right thing to do. Somehow I think I’m stuck with my sleep as it is!

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  8. That is so interesting about HRT, I must admit I thought it was really dangerous. I don’t think I am perimenopausal yet although I do struggle to sleep, so maybe I am nearly there. I know the sweats are horrid and my mum always said they were the worst part of menopause. I hope that everything settles down now that you have started treatment.

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    • Thanks very much. The sweats have definitely improved a lot since starting HRT. I would definitely recommend it when the time comes for you.

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