What causes hot flashes during pregnancy?

Many women experience hot flashes during pregnancy, resulting in sweating, a faster heart rate, and flushing of the face and neck. One of the main causes of this condition is the change in hormone levels, as the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase during pregnancy. Also, a pregnant woman's internal temperature is often higher than usual, sometimes leading to hot flashes that are more common during the second and third trimesters. Of course, stress and increased blood volume are also factors.

One of the most well-known causes of hot flashes is the increase in certain hormones. Progesterone typically increases early in pregnancy, allowing ligaments and joints to loosen over time so the body can make room for the expanding uterus and prepare for childbirth. Estrogen also increases in order to regulate progesterone levels, and also helps the fetus to continue growing. While these hormones are crucial to a healthy pregnancy, they often trigger mood swings and hot flashes.

Another change in the body during pregnancy is an increase in core body temperature. This also makes a woman more susceptible to dehydration, which means additional fluids are required. Of course, pregnant women who choose to exercise are at particular risk for hot flashes, as they can easily become overheated and dehydrated. This is especially true when gaining any amount of weight, which makes hot flashes particularly common towards the end of pregnancy.

Constant changes in the body often create stress for pregnant women, causing the body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine into the blood. This action increases heart rate and blood flow while constricting blood vessels. Combined with the fact that blood volume is already increased during pregnancy, it should come as no surprise that the body overheats more easily.

Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent hot flashes during pregnancy. Exercise can help treat hot flashes, but pregnant women who choose to exercise should be sure to stay hydrated and cool, wear breathable clothing, and avoid exercising in direct sunlight. Many women find that hot flashes disturb their sleep at night, but they can usually avoid this problem by keeping their bedroom cool and sleeping in breathable pajamas. Avoiding stress when possible is another way to get through the uncomfortable experience.

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