Hormone changes could be among the common internal heat causes in women we know. Internal heat or internal body heat is a phenomenon that's rather difficult to measure.
However, for many women, it is a fairly common complaint. And often not linked to exercise or being in a hot environment or ill from an infection. You may have the same symptoms as a real fever - feeling extremely hot, sweaty and having chills. Other symptoms are burning, feeling flushed, overheated etc. But when you have a temperature check, the thermometer reading is around 36 to 37 deg C (96.8F to 98.6F), considered average body temperature.
What's On This Page
- What are Hormones?
- Causes of Internal Body Heat - Hormones
- 1. Female Sex Hormones
- Sex Hormones' Role in the Causes of Internal Heat
- 2. Thyroxine
- 3. Adrenaline
- 4. Cortisol
- 5. Insulin
- 6. Serotonin - Depression
With internal body heat, there is no 'internal fever', but a sensation of having a fever even though:
- your temperature reading is regular and
- If someone felt your head or another body part, it would not feel hot
In this post, we consider the causes of internal heat in a woman brought on by hormones.
However, we know several causes of internal body heat unrelated to hormones - some of which we describe here.
Causes of internal heat may also differ from women to men.
We look at how specific hormones or changes in the way they behave could lead to the development of internal heat. These hormone imbalances may also be related to other symptoms, some of which we mention here.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are special chemical messengers produced by certain organs in your body, also known as endocrine glands.
Following their production, hormones get sent into your bloodstream.
Here are a few examples of hormones and the endocrine glands where they are produced:
Adrenaline (Fight or Flight Hormone) - Adrenal glands (located above the kidneys)
Cortisol (essential for metabolism and immune response) - Adrenal glands (located above the kidneys)
Insulin (helps control glucose levels and other metabolic actions) - Pancreas found in the abdomen.
Your hormones help regulate the way your body works for instance:
- blood pressure
- how you grow
- your response to stress or danger
- how you sleep.
Causes of Internal Body Heat - Hormones
1. Female Sex Hormones
Sex hormones play a role in your sexual and reproductive development as well as other body functions. For instance, they are necessary for puberty, sexual desire and other forms of sexual development. In addition, they act in some inflammatory processes, influencing hair growth patterns and body fat distribution, among others.
Sex hormones in women include Progesterone, Oestrogen and Testosterone. (Yes, women do produce small amounts of Testosterone).
Oestrogen is likely the female sex hormone with which we are most familiar. However, it has an essential role in women's sexual and reproductive health from puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and Menopause.
Additionally, Oestrogen promotes lower body temperatures by supporting the body's removal of excess heat - like widening the blood vessels and sweating. (Relaxes smooths and dilates blood vessels, so blood flow increases.)
The other well known female sex hormone is Progesterone. In women, progesterone levels increase during ovulation and pregnancy. Progesterone is one of the hormone causes of internal heat in a woman. It promotes higher body temperatures.
Finally, Testosterone is popular as the male sex hormone. However, women produce small amounts of the hormone, which play a role in your sexual desire, menstrual cycle and fertility. It also affects muscle and bone growth.
Sex Hormones' Role in the Causes of Internal Heat
Progesterone spikes during ovulation. Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovary. In the days leading up to ovulation, Oestrogen is the primary hormone.
However, just as ovulation happens, Progesterone levels go up very sharply - and remain up until the next period of your cycle.
Following ovulation, Progesterone helps prepare the body for pregnancy. If fertilisation does not happen, the egg and parts of the womb lining are shed as the menstrual blood that cycle.
Thanks to the spike in Progesterone, some women experience a slight increase in their body temperature and a feeling of excess internal body heat. The feeling of being warmer can persist through the next two weeks till your period.
When a woman is pregnant, her body forms Progesterone, but so does the placenta. The placenta is the organ that arises after pregnancy that supports the baby's development. Progesterone helps pregnancy to progress normally. But this also contributes to the rise in internal body heat some women may experience during their pregnancy. There is no sign of a high-temperature reading on the thermometer for many ladies, but that does not mean they do not feel flushed or overheated.
That stage in a woman's reproductive life when her body stops making eggs and can longer get pregnant. Menopause tends to happen around the age of 48-50 years and over.
One of the main symptoms during Menopause is the 'hot flash'. The hot flash is the sudden experience of intense body heat that a woman feels washing over her body. Sometimes anxiety, stress, hot weather, alcohol, smoking or other things can bring on a hot flash. But it could also arise without a trigger. But all this is possible because of hormone changes. For example, we know the principal hormone change in Menopause is erratic, fluctuating and reducing /low Oestrogen levels.
The fluctuation affects the temperature control centre in the brain (hypothalamus) and causes changes in blood vessels. The blood vessels rapidly tighten and open - leading to the skin flushing, and temperature changes called hot flashes.
And this is why it is one of the causes of internal heat in a woman.
Other conditions can create a menopause-like state in a woman, but the result is the same for creating a sensation of excess internal body heat.
Example of condition leading to chemical Menopause - Breast Cancer treatments such as:
- Radiation treatment
- Following surgery to remove the ovaries
- Anti-oestrogen therapy such as Tamoxifen
Women can experience hot flashes from erratic/low Oestrogen levels due to chemical Menopause. They report these are more frequent and severe than natural Menopause.
'Premature Ovarian Failure'
Premature Ovarian Failure is what happens when the ovaries stop their reproductive function prematurely (usually before the age of 40 years). We've seen how this can occur with breast cancer (or other cancer) treatments in chemical Menopause.
But other conditions outside of cancer can lead to premature ovarian failure.
Non-Cancer Causes of Premature Ovarian Failure
- A low number of follicles in the ovary
- Conditions caused by abnormal chromosomes like Turner syndrome. Instead of having the usual 46XX chromosomes (with two sex chromosomes), the Turners' syndrome lady only has one normal X sex chromosome, 45X0.
- Autoimmune conditions like Thyroiditis
- Metabolic problems - these are a wide variety of conditions that happen because of abnormal chemical reactions that affect the way our organs work.
- Toxins may lead to POF - chemicals, pesticides and cigarette smoke.
Abnormal hormone balances like Progesterone dominance or Testosterone dominance may lead to excessive internal body heat symptoms.
An overactive thyroid gland is one of the causes of internal body heat.
The thyroid gland (found in the neck) produces Thyroxine, a hormone vital for several body functions: digestion, heart and muscle activity, brain development and bone maintenance.
People with an overactive gland produce excess amounts of Thyroxine. They have a condition known as Hyperthyroidism. It also happens in an autoimmune disorder we call Grave's Disease. Symptoms related to having too much Thyroxine are:
- feeling very hot when others around you are comfortable or cold
- a racing heart (rapid or irregular heartbeat) and palpitations
- weight loss despite an increased appetite,
- increased bowel movements,
- irregular menstrual cycle,
- you may feel extremely tired
- hair thinning/loss and retraction of the eyelids resulting in a 'staring' appearance.
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Adrenaline is a special hormone - it carries chemical messages and transfers messages from the nerves to various organs.
It can act differently in various cells, but overall, its job is to prepare the body for the 'fight or flight' response during times of stress (when you need to act suddenly or rapidly.
The effect of Adrenaline on the blood vessels makes it one of the hormonal causes of internal body heat.
Other effects of Adrenaline are:
- high heart rate and blood pressure,
- faster breathing,
- driving blood flow to the muscles, and
- glucose and oxygen to the brain.
Cortisol is another hormone with a big role in many processes around the body, including metabolism, inflammation and stress.
Having excess Cortisol can be from taking certain medicines or due to cancer.
Cushing's syndrome is a combination of symptoms that happens when a person has excess Cortisol.
One of them is a 'flushed and round face' leading a person with Cushing's to complain of excessive internal body heat.
Other symptoms are:
- gaining weight very quickly in the face, chest and abdomen - with slim/skinny arms and legs
- high blood pressure
- thinning bones (osteoporosis) and muscle weakness
- skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks)
- mood changes - from anxiety, Depression and irritability
- increased thirst and frequency of urination.
If you don't have the hormone insulin, or your body is unable to respond to insulin causes Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
One of the symptoms of Diabetes is increased thirst and frequent urination.
People with Diabetes can quickly become dehydrated - a state often associated with internal heat.
In addition, Diabetes can damage your nerves or blood vessels and affect the way many tissues like your sweat glands work. If you cannot release sweat, your body will not cool down, which is one of the causes of internal body heat.
6. Serotonin - Depression
One of the main hormones involved in our mood, emotions and how we behave is Serotonin.
Studies show low serotonin levels in some people with Depression.
It can also affect other tissues in our body like our bones, bowels and blood cells.
People with Depression may complain of intense body heat or other sensations related to abnormal hormone levels.
Some other physical symptoms of Depression include:
- weight changes
- low sexual desire
- extreme tiredness
- Poor sleep
They may happen with the symptoms that affect you mentally:
low mood, a lack of interest and pleasure in doing things you usually enjoy, loss of hope, guilty feelings and more.
What about antidepressants?
Antidepressants are drugs we take to manage the symptoms of Depression. Mainly they work by raising the levels of the hormones which boost the mood.
Some of them can affect the way your sweat glands work and prevent you from cooling down properly. Thus some women may experience excessive internal body heat as a side effect of the antidepressant medication.
As there are several internal heat causes in a woman (not just hormones), it is essential to promptly discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
We can determine if your symptoms of internal body heat are related to hormones or other causes.
Let us know if you found this post useful; please share this in the comments section below or tell us any experience with internal body heat.
- Autonomic control of body temperature and blood pressure: influences of female sex hormones
- How the Body Regulates Heat
- Why Am I So Hot?
- Understanding your period and hormone imbalance
- Why am I so hot all the time? 10 Conditions that cause heat intolerance
- You And Your Hormones
- Reproductive hormone sensitivity and risk for depression across the female life cycle
- Estrogen & Hormones
- Turner syndrome
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
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