How the sauna affects the endocrine system

Ann Clin Res. 1988;20(4):262-6.


The sauna induces changes in the secretion of hormones, some similar to changes induced in any other stress situation and others characteristic of exposure to the sauna. Noradrenaline is usually the only catecholamine raised by the sauna in people accustomed to it. The secretion of the antidiuretic hormone is increased and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is activated. The concentrations of the growth hormone and prolactin, in particular, secreted from the anterior pituitary are increased in the circulation. The concentration of the immunoreactive beta-endorphin in blood may also increase which may reflect the feeling of pleasure or, on the other hand, discomfort induced by the sauna. The views on the effects of the sauna on the secretion of the ACTH and cortisol are partly contradictory, probably due to differing ways of taking the sauna bath. In Finnish sauna takers the concentration of cortisol in blood is not usually increased. The changes induced by the sauna in various hormone concentrations in the circulation are, however, normalized within a couple of hours after the heat stress.

MeSH terms

  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Endocrine Glands / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pituitary Hormones / blood
  • Prostanoic Acids / metabolism
  • Steam Bath*
  • Sweating
  • Thyroid Hormones / metabolism


  • Catecholamines
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Pituitary Hormones
  • Prostanoic Acids
  • Thyroid Hormones