I have been having night sweats and waking up soaking wet about two nights a week. I am only 32, so it better not be menopause! This all started about two months, and interestingly enough I started training for a marathon four months ago. I have been steadily increasing my weekly mileage and have lost some weight and gained some muscle. My period has been a bit lighter too. I still get it, but it is shorter by two days or so. Any idea of what is going on?
— Sweaty Sleeper
First of all, congratulations on training for your first marathon; what an accomplishment that will be! To answer your question, there could be a lot of things going on, and I don’t think I can single in on even a couple of diagnoses, as there are so many things that can cause lighter periods/irregular periods as well as night sweats. Since you mentioned menopause specifically, I will discuss premature menopause today, as well as the common causes of irregular periods and night sweats. I suggest you be seen by your primary care provider for further workup, as there are many diagnoses that would need to be entertained for your constellation of symptoms. To learn more, keep reading.
Premature menopause, sometimes also referred to as premature ovarian failure (albeit incorrectly), is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a loss of normal function of your ovaries before the age of 40. Premature ovarian failure results in irregular or occasional periods for many years, but women can still become pregnant. However, premature menopause causes periods to stop and women can’t become pregnant. Since you said you are still having your period, let's look a little further into premature ovarian failure. Its symptoms include: irregular or skipped periods, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability or difficulty concentrating, and decreased sexual desire. Premature ovarian failure can be caused by certain genetic disorders such as Turner’s Syndrome, toxins (such as chemotherapy, radiation, cigarette smoke, chemicals and pesticides), an immune system response to ovarian tissue (the body creates antibodies against its own ovaries), and unknown factors. Premature ovarian failure can be diagnosed by one’s primary care physician by a physical exam and blood work to check levels of reproductive hormones.
The number one cause of a missed period is pregnancy, however WebMD provides many other causes for irregular or missed periods. In your case, increased exercise may be a culprit. Other causes include: excessive weight loss/gain, eating disorders, emotional stress, illness, travel, medicines (such as birth control), hormone problems, illegal drug use, problems with reproductive hormones (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome), and breastfeeding.
Night sweats are defined as episodes of nighttime sweating that soak your nightclothes or bedding, and according to the Mayo Clinic, are not typically a sign of a medical problem and can occur from time to time in people. However, there is a whole host of medical conditions and medications that can cause night sweats. Medications that can cause night sweats include: antidepressants, medications that lower your body temperature (such as Advil or acetaminophen), hormone therapy (medications that regulate levels of hormones in your body), and diabetes medications that lower blood sugars. WebMD states that there are many causes of night sweats including: menopause, infections (such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS), cancers (such as lymphoma and leukemia), medications (such as antidepressants and medicines used to lower fever), low-blood sugar (hypoglycemia), hormone disorders (such as carcinoid syndrome, hyperthyroidism, and pheochromocytoma), and neurologic conditions (such as stroke and autonomic neuropathy). They also mention that people can have idiopathic hyperhydrosis, which is where the body produces excessive sweat without any identifiable medical cause.
As you can see, there are a lot of medical conditions and medications that could be causing your symptoms. The best thing anyone can do when they have concerning medical symptoms is visit their primary care physician for further evaluation and workup. I hope you figure out what’s going on and good luck training for your marathon!
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