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Acupuncture helps menopause symptoms


Acupuncture treatment on back

Credit: iStock

Menopause can be a challenging time on many fronts. It is a time of transition when a woman cannot avoid that her body is changing but aside from the psychological challenge there is also the real and possibly debilitating physical symptoms. Among of those distressing symptoms are hot flushes and night sweats but according to a new study acupuncture might be able to help offer some relief.

It is estimated that 85 per cent of women experience hot flushes (known as hot flashes in the United States) of some kind as they approach menopause and for the first year or two after their periods stop. Between 20 and 50 per cent of women continue to have them for many more years. Hot flushes feature a sudden, intense, hot feeling on your face and upper body, perhaps accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, weakness, or a feeling of suffocation. Some women experience an “aura”, an uneasy feeling just before the hot flush. The flush leaves you red and perspiring. You can be soaked with sweat or merely have a moist upper lip. A chill can be the icing on the cake. When hot flushes happen at night, leaving you and your sheets drenched, they are called night sweats.

After the first six months the acupuncture treatment group 36.7 per cent fewer hot flushes per day on average whereas the comparison group showed a six per cent increase.

For the new study researchers gathered more than 200 women aged 45-60 who had not had a period for at least three months and who were experiencing at least four hot flushes or night sweats per 24 hours. The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups; one group received acupuncture for the first six months when the other did not and then for second six months the groups switched so that those who had not been receiving acupuncture did receive it for the next six months and vice versa.

In the six months where they did receive acupuncture each woman was allowed to receive up to 20 treatments from a licensed practitioner. The women all recorded the frequency and severity of any hot flushes or night sweats in a diary. Additionally, every two months they completed quality of life questionnaires.

Decisions about frequency and number of treatments were left up to the subjects so it would be as “real world” as possible.

After the first six months the acupuncture treatment group 36.7 per cent fewer hot flushes per day on average whereas the comparison group showed a six per cent increase. After a year those women in the group who received acupuncture for the first six months still reported having 29.4 per cent fewer hot flushes even thought they did not have acupuncture for the last six months. After their six months of treatment the comparison group achieved a similar average of a 31 per cent reduction in hot flushes.

It might be the acupuncture, or it might also be the extra care and attention the women received, that yielded these results but whatever the cause the benefits are surely worth it.



 

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.