Have you ever felt the sudden sensations of heat that spread throughout the body, causing sweating, flushing, and discomfort? They can occur at any time of the day or night and last from a few seconds to several minutes.
Yes, these are hot flashes! If you have prostate cancer, you may have experienced hot flashes at some point.
Hot flashes are one of hormone therapy’s most common side effects, a treatment that lowers testosterone levels and other male hormones. Hormone therapy can help slow the growth of prostate cancer but can also affect your mood, energy, sex drive, and overall well-being.
According to some studies, about 75 percent of men who receive hormone therapy for prostate cancer experience hot flashes, which can significantly impact their quality of life.
This blog post will explore the causes, treatment options, and coping strategies for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer. We hope this information will help you understand what is happening to your body and how to manage this challenging symptom.
Causes of Hot Flashes in Men With Prostate Cancer
The primary reason behind male hot flashes is hormone replacement therapy, followed by surgery and stress. Let’s look at the reason in detail.
One of the most common causes of hot flashes in men is hormone therapy, a treatment for prostate cancer that restricts testosterone production. Testosterone is a male hormone that stimulates the growth of prostate cancer cells, so lowering its levels can help slow down or stop cancer.
Testosterone replacement therapy in Hormone Replacement Therapy LA carefully monitors your bodily functions and reactions to make the entire approach safe.
However, testosterone also affects the thermal control center in the brain, which regulates the body’s temperature. When testosterone levels drop, the brain may send signals to the blood vessels to dilate and release heat, causing hot flashes. Hormone therapy can also affect other hormones, such as estrogen, which may play a role in hot flashes.
There are different types of hormone therapy for prostate cancer, and some may cause more hot flashes than others. For example, drugs that block the production of testosterone, such as goserelin (Zoladex), tend to cause hot flashes in most men, while medicines that block the action of testosterone, such as bicalutamide, are less likely to cause them. The dose, duration, and timing of hormone therapy may also affect the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
Another cause of hot flashes in men is surgery to remove one or both testicles, a form of hormone therapy for prostate cancer. The testicles are the primary source of testosterone in the body, so removing them can cause a sudden drop in testosterone levels, triggering hot flashes and night sweats.
The surgery may also affect the nerves and blood vessels that control the body’s temperature, adding to the problem.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can also cause or worsen hot flashes in men with prostate cancer. Stress and anxiety can activate the sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the fight-or-flight response. This can increase the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, leading to hot flashes.
Stress and anxiety can also affect the levels of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can interfere with the body’s temperature regulation. Moreover, stress and anxiety can make men more aware of and bothered by their hot flashes, creating a vicious cycle.
Treatment Options For Hot Flashes In Men With Prostate Cancer
Hot flashes are annoying for both males and females. However, there are ways to mitigate and resolve this physical discomfort.
Medication is one of the main treatment options for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer. Different types of medication can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, such as:
These drugs can affect the brain chemicals that regulate the body’s temperature and mood. Some examples of antidepressants that can help with hot flashes are
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro), and
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
Antidepressants can also help with depression and anxiety, common in men with prostate cancer. However, they may have side effects such as nausea, headache, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain.
These drugs can also affect the brain chemicals that control the body’s temperature and mood. An example of an anticonvulsant that can help with hot flashes is gabapentin (Neurontin). Anticonvulsants can also help with nerve pain, common in men with prostate cancer. However, they may have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, and swelling.
These hormones can help balance the effects of low testosterone and reduce hot flashes. However, they are rarely used in men with prostate cancer, because they can stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells and increase the risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
This hormone can also help balance the effects of low testosterone and reduce hot flashes. However, it is also rarely used in men with prostate cancer because it can cause side effects such as weight gain, fluid retention, depression, and breast enlargement.
Medication for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer may not be suitable for everyone and may have interactions with other drugs. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before starting any new medication and to follow the prescribed dose and schedule.
Another treatment option for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer is lifestyle changes. There are some simple and natural ways to manage hot flashes, such as:
- Avoiding triggers: Some factors that can trigger or worsen hot flashes are spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, stress, and hot environments. Avoiding or limiting these triggers can help prevent or reduce hot flashes.
- Dressing in layers: Wearing light and breathable clothing that can be easily removed or added can help regulate the body’s temperature and comfort. Wearing cotton or natural fabrics can also help absorb sweat and prevent irritation.
- Cooling down: Using a fan, air conditioner, cold water, ice packs, or cooling pillows can help lower the body’s temperature and relieve hot flashes. Keeping the bedroom cool and dark can also help improve sleep quality and reduce night sweats.
- Relaxing: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, massage, or acupuncture can help calm the mind and body and reduce stress and anxiety, which can trigger or worsen hot flashes. Relaxation can also help improve mood and well-being, which can be affected by hot flashes.
- Exercising: Being physically active can help improve blood circulation, metabolism, and mood, which can help reduce hot flashes. Exercising can also help maintain a healthy weight, muscle mass, and bone density, which can be affected by hormone therapy. However, avoiding exercising too close to bedtime is essential, as it can raise the body’s temperature and cause night sweats.
Another treatment option for hot flashes in men with prostate cancer is natural remedies. Some herbal or dietary supplements can help reduce hot flashes, such as:
Soy is a plant-based food that contains phytoestrogens, compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen and help balance the effects of low testosterone. Soy can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in men with prostate cancer and improve bone health and cholesterol levels.
Soy can be found in foods such as tofu, soy milk, soy nuts, and soy sauce, or supplements such as soy isoflavones or protein. However, soy may interact with some medications, such as warfarin, and may affect thyroid function in some people. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before taking soy supplements and to monitor the blood levels of thyroid hormones and anticoagulants.
Chasteberry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus or monk’s pepper, is a herb that can help regulate the production of hormones, such as prolactin, that can affect hot flashes. Chasteberry can help reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in men with prostate cancer and improve mood and sleep quality. Chasteberry can be taken as a tea, capsule, tincture, or extract.
However, chasteberry may have side effects such as nausea, headache, dry mouth, or rash and interact with some medications, such as dopamine agonists, antipsychotics, or oral contraceptives. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before taking chasteberry, and to avoid taking it with other hormone therapies.
Wild yam, also known as Dioscorea villosa, is a plant that contains diosgenin, a compound that can be converted into progesterone, a hormone that can help balance the effects of low testosterone. Wild yams can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in men with prostate cancer, as well as improve bone health and libido.
Wild yam can be taken as a cream, gel, capsule, or extract. However, wild yam may have side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or headache and interact with some medications, such as estrogen, progesterone, or corticosteroids. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor before taking wild yam and to avoid taking it with other hormone therapies.
Diabetes and Male Hot Flashes Connections
There is some evidence that hot flashes may increase the risk of developing diabetes, especially when accompanied by night sweats. However, this does not mean that hot flashes cause diabetes or that having diabetes causes hot flashes. More research is needed to understand the link between these two conditions.
Hot flashes in men with prostate cancer are a real and treatable symptom. Hormone therapy is one of the most common causes of hot flashes in men with prostate cancer. Medication, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, estrogens, and progestin, can help reduce their frequency and severity.
However, lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers, wearing layered clothing, practicing relaxation techniques, and exercising regularly, can also provide relief.
It is essential to consult a doctor before starting any new treatment or medication, follow the prescribed dose and schedule, and manage stress and anxiety to improve the quality of life for men with prostate cancer.
Check with our Hormone Replacement Therapy specialist team and get the best treatment to mitigate hot flashes.