Night sweats are primarily caused by a hormonal imbalance, according to 34 Menopause Symptoms. Pregnancy night sweats occur when the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for regulating body heat, malfunctions due to a deficiency in the hormone estrogen. The malfunctioning hypothalamus triggers an increase in body temperature during the night that results in uncontrollable sweating. A woman experiences night sweats when her impaired hypothalamus ejects chemicals into her blood that dilate blood vessels and release body heat. It is common in pregnancy for a woman to experience night sweats accompanied by cold shivering.
Various medications can raise or lower a woman's body temperature during pregnancy resulting in night sweats. Women who take acetaminophen or aspirin during their pregnancy to decrease a fever or help with pain may notice an increase in night sweats, according to the American Family Physicians website. In addition, pregnant women may experience side effects such as night sweats when they take anti-nausea or anti-depressant medications due to a rise in body temperature, according to the website The Sleep Well. Pregnant women who abuse drugs may also experience an elevated body temperature as they try to withdraw from alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines resulting in extreme night sweats.
A variety of illnesses and infections can cause a woman to have night sweats during pregnancy. Infections, viruses, cancer or autoimmune disorders can raise a pregnant woman's temperature and cause excessive sweating. An example of an illness that can cause drenching night sweats during pregnancy is the cancer Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to the National Cancer Institute. When Hodgkin's lymphoma occurs during pregnancy, a pregnant woman develops malignant cancer cells in her lymphatic system. A woman does not have to be pregnant in order to develop Hodgkin's lymphoma, but a pregnant woman with the disease may notice an increase in night sweats as her pregnancy progresses.
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- 34 Menopause Symptoms: Night Sweats During Pregnancy
- American Family Physician: Diagnosing Night Sweats
- The Sleep Well: Sleep Hyperhidrosis (Night Sweats, Excessive Sweating)
- National Cancer Institute: Hodgkin's Lymphoma During Pregnancy
- Your Cancer Today: Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin's, During Pregnancy
- Sleep Disorders Guide: Night Sweats
- Families: Dealing with Night Sweats