Do Saunas Affect Hormones? (Exploring the Science)

Saunas have been used for centuries as a way to relax, detoxify the body, and promote overall wellness.

But have you ever wondered if saunas also have an effect on your hormones?

In this article, we’ll explore how saunas work, their potential hormonal effects, and the various health benefits associated with regular sauna use.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

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How Saunas Work

Saunas are small rooms or buildings designed to induce sweating and elevate body temperature through the use of heat.

There are different types of saunas, including traditional Finnish saunas, infrared saunas, and steam rooms.

Each type uses various heating methods to produce a warm and relaxing environment.

The Hormonal Effects of Saunas

Saunas are known to affect several hormones in the body.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant hormonal changes associated with sauna use.

  • Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Regular sauna use has been found to lower cortisol levels, leading to stress relief and relaxation.

  • Growth Hormone

Sauna sessions can stimulate the release of growth hormone, which plays a vital role in cell regeneration, muscle growth, and overall body repair.

  • Testosterone

Research suggests that moderate sauna use may increase testosterone levels in men, which can improve muscle mass, libido, and overall well-being.

  • Endorphins

Saunas can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and mood enhancers, leading to a feeling of happiness and well-being.

  • Oxytocin

Sauna use may also stimulate the production of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for promoting social bonding, trust, and feelings of love and affection.

Saunas and Stress Relief

As mentioned earlier, saunas help reduce cortisol levels, thereby relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

This makes them an excellent tool for managing daily stressors and improving mental health.

Saunas and Muscle Recovery

The increase in growth hormone and testosterone levels associated with sauna use can aid in muscle recovery and growth.

Additionally, the heat can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation, speeding up the recovery process after a workout.

Saunas and Skin Health

The heat and sweating induced by saunas help open up pores and flush out impurities, resulting in clearer and healthier skin.

Saunas and Detoxification

Saunas can facilitate the elimination of toxins through sweat, supporting your body’s natural detoxification process.

Saunas and Weight Loss

Although saunas shouldn’t be considered a primary method for weight loss, they can still contribute to it indirectly.

The increased heart rate and sweating experienced during a sauna session can lead to a temporary increase in calorie expenditure.

Additionally, the hormonal changes associated with sauna use may aid in weight management and overall well-being.

Saunas and Sleep

The relaxation and stress relief provided by saunas can help improve sleep quality.

The release of endorphins and the decrease in cortisol levels can promote a better night’s sleep, making it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Saunas and Immune System

Regular sauna use may help boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in fighting infections and maintaining overall health.

Potential Risks and Precautions

While saunas offer many potential benefits, it’s essential to use them with caution. Some potential risks include dehydration, heat exhaustion, and low blood pressure.

To minimize these risks, stay well-hydrated, limit your time in the sauna, and listen to your body’s signals.

Types of Saunas

There are several types of saunas, each with its unique features and benefits:

  • Traditional Finnish Sauna

This type of sauna uses wood, electricity, or gas to heat rocks, which then radiate heat throughout the room. The temperature in a Finnish sauna typically ranges from 160°F to 200°F (70°C to 90°C).

  • Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body directly, rather than heating the air. This type of sauna operates at a lower temperature (around 120°F to 140°F, or 50°C to 60°C) and is said to provide a more gentle and relaxing experience.

  • Steam Room

A steam room, also known as a Turkish bath, generates steam by heating water to create a humid environment. The temperature in a steam room is usually around 110°F to 120°F (45°C to 50°C), with a humidity level of nearly 100%.

How to Use a Sauna Safely

To ensure a safe and enjoyable sauna experience, follow these guidelines:

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your sauna session.

  2. Limit your time in the sauna, starting with short sessions and gradually increasing the duration as your body adapts.

  3. Listen to your body and exit the sauna if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseous.

  4. Allow your body to cool down gradually after your sauna session.

  5. Consult your healthcare provider before using a sauna if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, are pregnant, or are taking medications.


Saunas can indeed affect hormones, leading to various health benefits such as stress relief, muscle recovery, skin health, detoxification, weight management, improved sleep, and immune system support.

However, it’s essential to use saunas safely and with proper precautions to minimize potential risks.

By incorporating regular sauna sessions into your wellness routine, you can enjoy the numerous health benefits while also positively influencing your hormonal balance.


  1. Can I use a sauna every day?

While some people enjoy daily sauna sessions, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust the frequency based on your individual needs and tolerance.

  1. How long should I stay in a sauna?

Start with shorter sessions of 10-15 minutes and gradually increase the duration as your body adapts. It’s important not to exceed 20-30 minutes in a single session to minimize potential risks.

  1. Can pregnant women use saunas?

Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider before using a sauna, as the elevated temperatures may pose potential risks

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