Male hot flashes, like the better known female variety, trigger the sensation of heat, even when the room temperature has not changed. Men suffering from this problem break out into a sweat, and they can disrupt his sleep. As with women, hot flashes occur because of a disruption in hormone levels, and men with reduced testosterone levels might experience them.
For men and women, hot flashes can be identified by a sudden feeling of intense heat or uncomfortable warmth, usually lasting for about four minutes and especially common at night. The skin might redden, and significant sweating might occur. Typically, the sensation of heat is most intense over the head and torso. Some men notice that they wake in the night with bedclothes damp with sweat.
About 70% of women experience hot flashes as a symptom of menopause. Middle-age men also experience biological changes in a condition called andropause. Most men experience only a small reduction in testosterone levels, about 1%, and never display significant symptoms. Figures on the number of men affected are hard to determine, because hot flashes are widely believed to be a feminine issue, and experts believe that many men experiencing them never report these symptoms to a medical professional.
Men who undergo androgen deprivation therapy as a treatment for prostate cancer are likely to experience hot flashes. Androgen deprivation therapy reduces levels of testosterone dramatically in order to reduce cancer growth. Between 70 and 80% of these men experience this symptom.
For most women, hot flashes are a temporary source of discomfort, with symptoms fading after about a year, although some continue to suffer for years. Male hot flashes resulting from androgen deprivation therapy typically go away about three or four months after the therapy has been discontinued. For men with chronically reduced testosterone levels, whether from medical treatment or dysfunction, hot flashes are likely to continue.
Regular exercise can ease the symptoms of hot flashes. Spicy food and alcohol can trigger flashes and should be avoided, especially as bedtime approaches. A cool shower or bath might reduce the likelihood and severity of discomfort.
Women experiencing hot flashes often have found relief with hormone replacement therapies. In many cases, male hot flashes are caused by a deliberate reduction of testosterone levels, so replacement therapy is not an option. Promising studies have been conducted using estrogen and progesterone, but further research is needed. Antidepressants also might provide some relief for men and women who suffer from hot flashes.