ONE: I’ve never heard of this. What is it?
A: Menopause Fever is a condition whereby the body experiences temperatures above what’s considered normal, which is approximately 37.5 degrees Celsius. Typically, the patient will undergo profuse sweating and skin flushes which are external indicators of the condition.
TWO: What causes it?
A: Research shows that reduced estrogen levels produced by the hypothalamus during menopause is the main cause of fever, this part of the brain is responsible for regulating heat levels and its malfunction can affect the body’s capacity to maintain optimal temperature.
Hormonal imbalance triggers the hypothalamus to incorrectly detect high temperatures within the body, thus sending signals for it to rapidly cool down. Consequently, this causes blood capillaries to expand and the patient to sweat excessively. (1)
THREE: What’s the connection between menopause fever, night sweats and hot flashes?
A: There’s a difference between menopause fever, hot flashes and night sweats. Hot flashes are described as a sudden sensation of warmth that only affects the body’s upper part, including the face, chest, neck and shoulder areas. Flashes appear suddenly and disappear just as fast as they emerge.
On the other hand, fevers are accompanied by a feeling of warmth that gradually increases and may take several hours to dissipate.
Moreover, unlike hot flashes, fevers can actually raise a person’s internal temperature. Women with menopause fever will also experience warmth all over the body and not just the upper part. (6)
As for night sweats, they are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels in the body that make the hypothalamus to heat up the body in a false attempt to cool it down. The hypothalamus will make your blood vessels to dilate in order to release heat and this shall trigger the sweat glands to perspire profusely. (7)
FOUR: What hormones cause these "fevers”?
A: Most physicians believe that hormonal fluctuation is the main cause of fever for women going through menopause. During this process, the body drastically decreases its production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones which trigger the symptoms.
Even though hormonal imbalance is the root cause of menopause fever, the condition can be intensified through poor lifestyle choices such as improper diet and lack of adequate exercise. (2)
FOUR: What hormones cause these "fevers”?
A: The most common symptom of this fever is night sweats, which is marked by excessive sweating during the night and can vary from mild to severe. The latter can interrupt your sleep patterns and cause extreme fatigue and irritation. Likewise, the feverish night sweats can result in wet bedding and sheets, thus causing chills even after the preliminary wave of heat has dissipated.
While night sweats are manageable, you should always consult with a doctor if other symptoms such as shortness of breath, headache, quick heartbeat and lack of urination also arise.
In most cases, before the sweating stage of menopause fever commences most women experience a 'cold’ phase, whereby the hypothalamus causes blood capillaries beneath the skin to constrict so as to retain as much body heat as possible. This may cause the skin’s outer layer to cool, hence resulting in trembling as the body tries to keep warm. Going through such an experience before the intense heat phase is indicative of a fever. (3)
SIX: Why does this symptom occur during menopause?
A: During menopause, the body typically experiences hormonal imbalances that affect temperature regulation. Women who have undergone hysterectomy surgery are likely to suffer more intense fevers, compared to those who pass through menopause normally.
Nevertheless, for partial hysterectomy where one or both ovaries are left intact, it is unlikely that the patient will notice any severe fever since estrogen will still be produced after the operation.
In such cases, you need to monitor your body temperature regularly during the day and be assessed for other potential causes of your fever, which can be an underlying infection.
Generally, low grade fever caused by partial hysterectomy can last for about 2 months, this happens because the body can’t produce sufficient amounts of estrogen to regulate internal temperature. By contrast, fever caused by normal menopause can last for up to 5 days, though cooling down after the experience is far more challenging. (4)
SEVEN: What are the solutions/treatments available?
A: There are both natural and medical-based treatments available for menopause fever. Some of which include:
a) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
It’s a common medical treatment used by menopausal women to alleviate symptoms of lower estrogen such as fever. HRT involves administering medications to replace female hormones which the body is no longer producing.
For women who’ve had their uterus removed, Estrogen-only HRT is the most suitable form of treatment. Such patients don’t need a progesterone boost in the body since they can no longer get pregnant, furthermore lower progesterone doesn’t have any discernible symptoms that can cause discomfort unlike estrogen.(5)
b) Eating healthy and regular exercise
Having a healthy mind and body is essential in alleviating menopause fever and night sweats.
Through maintaining a balanced diet and exercising frequently, you can combat stress which is a common cause for night sweats. Ideally, consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C, B and E such as broccoli, cabbage, brown rice, almonds and tomatoes. Fish is also good for your diet as it contains Omega 3 fatty acids that promote brain function. Apart from these, there are also herbal remedies and alternative medicine that can be used to treat the fever. (1)
- The Vergo iOS symptom tracker (emailable to your healthcare provider)
- The Vergo QuikTrak symptom tracker (the refillable pdf version, also emailable)
- Vergo’s Interactive Education Program, Journey Without a Roadmap: Understanding Menopause
- Curated guides to the biggest questions and hottest topics around menopause symptoms and treatment options
- Must-have information on male menopause: There’s an Andropause? (an overview of what your guy could be going through)
- Terminology Cheat Sheets