For some women acupuncture can significantly reduce uncomfortable menopause symptoms like hot flashes. [Photo: Bigstock]

Menopause symptoms respond to acupuncture

25 May, 2016

Natural Health News — Acupuncture treatments can significantly reduce the number of hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to new research.

“Although acupuncture does not work for every woman, our study showed that, on average, acupuncture effectively reduced the frequency of hot flashes and results were maintained for six months after the treatments stopped,” said Nancy Avis, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study, published in the journal Menopause.

The study, which was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, included 209 women ages 45-60 who had not had a menstrual period for at least three months and had on average at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day in the previous two weeks.

What you need to know

» Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are notoriously difficult to treat. No single treatment will work for all women.

» The current study compared women who received acupuncture to those who didn’t and found that those receiving acupuncture experienced a significant reduction in symptoms.

» The results also showed that benefits were most likely to be felt after just 8 treatments.

The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group received acupuncture treatments during the first six months. They were then followed without receiving acupuncture for the second six months. The second group did not receive any acupuncture during the first six months, but did receive acupuncture for the second six months.

The participants were allowed up to 20 treatments within six months provided by licensed, experienced acupuncturists in the community. All participants kept a daily diary on the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. They also answered questionnaires about other symptoms every two months.

Significant benefits

The study was designed to reflect the “real world” by leaving the frequency and number of the acupuncture treatments up to the study participants and their acupuncturists. After six months, the first group reported an average 36.7% decline in frequency of hot flashes compared to the beginning of the study. After a year, the benefits persisted, with the women maintaining an average reduction in symptoms of 29.4%.

The second group reported a 6% increase in symptom frequency during the six months when they were not getting acupuncture, but had similar results – an average 31% reduction in frequency – to the first group after receiving acupuncture during the second part of the trial.

“There are a number of non-hormonal options for treating hot flashes and night sweats that are available to women,” Avis said. “None of these options seem to work for everyone, but our study showed that acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist can help some women without any side effects. Our study also showed that the maximum benefit occurred after about eight treatments.”