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Grossesse et transpiration excessive.

Pregnancy: Why am I sweating more?

Excessive perspiration is among the often overlooked symptoms of pregnancy. Yet, many pregnant women experience this. What causes this excessive sweating? How can the discomfort be limited? Here are some answers.

Summary
Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

The causes of excessive perspiration in pregnant women.

About 35% of pregnant women complain of hot flushes and night sweats during pregnancy. Although unpleasant, these phenomena are not without purpose and are primarily aimed at eliminating toxins and other organic waste produced by the mother's body and that of the child. Several factors contribute to an increase in perspiration during pregnancy.

  1. Blood circulation between the mother and the embryo typically establishes from the fourth week of pregnancy. It then becomes more intense within the pregnant woman's body. Indeed, in addition to supplying the mother's various organs with oxygen and nutrients, the blood circulation must also deliver all the essential nutrients to the future baby. This increase in blood circulation results in a rise in temperature within the pregnant woman's body. To dissipate this excessive heat, perspiration intensifies.

  2. This phenomenon is also compounded by the weight gain that occurs during pregnancy. Indeed, adipocytes, the fat cells of the hypodermis, serve as a reserve and promote thermogenesis, that is, the production of heat by the body. The body responds by increasing perspiration to cool itself down.

  3. Hot flushes and excessive sweating experienced by pregnant women are also hormonally driven. Indeed, a study has correlated the increase in progesterone levels during pregnancy with a stimulation of the sweat glands, which produce sweat. However, no mechanistic explanation has been provided.

  4. Finally, excessive perspiration can be due to hyperthyroidism, a disorder of the thyroid gland affecting approximately 4% of pregnant women. The overactivity of this gland can cause, among other things, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to a rise in body temperature. This condition needs to be monitored, as it can be harmful to both the embryo and the mother: the main consequences are growth retardation, and an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth. However, it should be noted that hyperthyroidism is often detected quite early in pregnancy and the adverse effects mentioned above are fortunately rare.

Pregnancy: Tips to limit excessive sweating.

Hot flushes and excessive sweating are unpleasant phenomena, which can prove to be embarrassing in social situations. To limit them, there are a few tricks.

  • Maintaining impeccable body hygiene.

    Beyond the use of a gentle soap, a daily warm shower is recommended to rid the body of sweat. Indeed, water that is too hot or too cold could disrupt the body's natural thermoregulation and cause a rise in temperature after the shower, resulting in excessive sweating.

  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing.

    During pregnancy, it is beneficial to choose loose clothing made from fibres, such as linen or cotton, which do not trap heat. In addition to reducing sensations of hot flushes and perspiration, this allows one to feel more comfortable in a changing and challenged body.

  • Regularly ventilate the room.

    To sleep comfortably and combat night sweats, you can leave your bedroom window slightly ajar for about 15 minutes before you go to bed. It is indeed recommended to sleep in a room where the ambient temperature is around 18°C. You can also cover your pillow with a terry towel to absorb perspiration during sleep.

  • Proper hydration.

    The primary risk posed by excessive perspiration is dehydration. To counteract this, it is recommended to drink 1.5 L to 2 L of water per day. Do not hesitate to keep a bottle of cool water close to you in order to stay hydrated. This will also help to somewhat alleviate hot flushes.

Sources

  • EVANS T. & al. A composite picture of the menstrual cycle. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1972).

  • ADAMO K. & al. Heat loss responses at rest and during exercice in pregnancy: A scoping review. Journal of Thermal Biology (2021).

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