Q: Is there a way to tell if my hot flashes and night sweats are hormone related?
A: The quick and easy answer is yes. Two hormones that are often tested are the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). FSH is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. In a regular menstrual cycle, FSH stimulates the ovaries to release an egg, or oocyte. In perimenopause and menopause, aging ovaries produce less estrogen and then no estrogen at all. This drop in estrogen levels stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete more FSH. Women between 45-55 years old (menopause age range) who experience hot flashes usually have test results showing elevated levels of FSH. However, heat intolerance manifested as hot flashes can also be a symptom of hyperthyroidism, a thyroid condition where an overproduction of thyroid hormone causes TSH to decrease. If a patient of a younger age range experiences hot flashes, TSH levels will usually be tested. Although there are several other reasons why women may experience hot flashes, these two hormone tests are the most commonly administered.
John S. Adams, M.D., FACOG, Women’s Health Services
929 Spring Creek Rd., Suite 104, East Ridge, TN 37412