I am a 65-year-old woman who still has hot flashes and night sweats. Is something wrong?
Probably not. Many women experience hot flashes and/or night sweats (episodes of excessive sweating during sleep that can soak clothing and/or sheets) for 10 years or more after menopause.
When researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, studied 2,020 women ages 40 to 65, they found that 42% of women age 60 and older regularly experienced hot flashes and/or night sweats, and most also reported lack of sexual desire and vaginal dryness.
Women who smoke and those who are overweight were more likely to have long-lasting menopausal symptoms, so talk to your doctor about ways to lose weight if your body mass index (a ratio of weight to height) is more than 25. And if you smoke, you should quit!
Initiation of hormone replacement therapy is generally not recommended for women over age 65, but your doctor may prescribe a vaginal estrogen cream to relieve dryness and discomfort during sex.
A low-dose antidepressant, such as paroxetine (Paxil) or venlafaxine (Effexor), may also help relieve severe hot flash symptoms.
However, hot flashes and night sweats are not always due to menopause. For this reason, your doctor should check for underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease and diabetes.
Night sweats that occur without daytime hot flashes can also be an early symptom of some types of cancer, such as lymphoma or leukemia.