Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can be reduced by acupuncture, according to research. The findings suggest that acupuncture can reduce symptoms related to menopause by up to 36 percent. Lead author Nancy Avis said, “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.”
The study included 209 women who had not experienced a menstrual cycle in the last three months and who had at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day within the last two weeks prior of the study. At baseline, participants were randomized into either one of the two groups. The first group received acupuncture for six months and then was followed for additional six months without acupuncture. The second group did not receive acupuncture for the first six months, but did for the second six months.
The participants kept journals to record hot flashes and answered questionnaires about their symptoms. Participants were allowed to take the treatments when they worked for them to replicate “real life” scenarios.
The first group reported on average a 36.7 percent decline in frequency of hot flashes, compared to baseline, and the benefits lasted even after a year. The second group reported a six percent increase in symptom frequency during the time they did not receive acupuncture, but had similar results in the second part of the study when they did receive acupuncture.
Avis said, “There are a number of non-hormonal options for treating hot flashes and night sweats that are available to women. 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.”
A previous study found similar results that acupuncture may benefit hot flashes, as experienced in menopause. The study looked at 12 studies that included 869 participants, and found that acupuncture improves both frequency and severity of hot flashes. Results were mixed for acupuncture benefits on sleep disturbances, mood disturbances, and sexual problems.
Although frequency of acupuncture didn’t affect the success of the treatment, the researchers found that sham acupuncture still yielded similar results of true acupuncture.
North American Menopause Society director Margery Gass said, “More than anything, this review indicates that there is still much to be learned relative to the causes and treatments of menopausal hot flashes. The review suggests that acupuncture may be an effective alternative for reducing hot flashes, especially for those women seeking non-pharmacologic therapies.”
You may want to speak to your doctor about exploring acupuncture and getting a referral to someone who knows how to perform this ancient technique as a means of obtaining relief from hot flashes.
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