Estrogen raises the sweating threshold in postmenopausal women with hot flashes

Fertil Steril. 2002 Mar;77(3):487-90. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(01)03009-6.


Objective: To determine if estrogen ameliorates hot flashes by raising the core body temperature sweating threshold, by reducing core body temperature fluctuations, and/or by reducing sympathetic activation (as measured by plasma 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol).

Design: Laboratory physiological study.

Setting: University medical center.

Patient(s): Twenty-four healthy postmenopausal women reporting frequent hot flashes.

Intervention(s): Participants were randomly assigned, in double-blind fashion, to receive 1 mg/d 17beta-estradiol orally or placebo for 90 days.

Main outcome measure(s): Core body temperature, core body temperature fluctuations, mean skin temperature, sternal sweat rate, laboratory hot flash counts (sternal skin conductance), plasma 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol.

Result(s): The E(2) group had significant increases in plasma E(2) (8 +/- 2 vs. 132 +/- 22 pg/mL) and core body temperature sweating threshold (37.98 +/- 0.09 vs. 38.14 +/- 0.09 degrees C) and decreases in plasma FSH (58.8 +/- 8.9 vs. 40.1 +/- 7.6 mIU/mL) and hot flashes (1.4 +/- 0.5 vs. 0.6 +/- 0.6). These changes did not occur in the placebo group. There were no significant changes in any other measure.

Conclusion(s): E(2) ameliorates hot flashes by raising the core body temperature sweating threshold, but does not affect core temperature fluctuations or plasma 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy*
  • Hot Flashes / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Sweating / drug effects*
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Telemetry


  • Estradiol
  • Methoxyhydroxyphenylglycol
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone