Natural menopause – the absence of menstruation for longer than 12 months – often comes with a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, night sweats, and of course hot flashes. However, a recent study found acupuncture to reduce or even eliminate some of these systems, improving quality life and reducing stress/anxiety in women going through menopause.
Researchers at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan monitored 869 participants who are were going through menopause while using 12 different treatment methods. One of the 12 treatment methods was acupuncture, which surprisingly proved to be the most effective at relieving the discomfort associated with menopause.
Hot flashes are the single most common symptom reported by women in menopause. This condition is characterized by sudden feelings of intense heat combined with excessive perspiration and a rapid heartbeat. Hot flashes may last anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes, often occurring multiple times per day.
During this study, Taipei Medical University researchers discovered acupuncture was an effective form of treatment for hot flashes in women going through menopause. Participants who were treated with acupuncture experienced fewer and less severe hot flashes than participants who were not treated with acupuncture.
“In clinical settings, acupuncture should be considered as an adjunct treatment for reducing menopause-related symptoms, particularly hot flashes, in addition to HT and other pharmacologic therapies,” wrote Hsiao-Yean Chiu, RN, PhD, from the College of Nursing, Taipei Medical University in Taiwan.
Most treatment options for hot flashes are only effective for a short period of time (if they are effective at all), at which point the problem comes back and begins to take control of the woman’s life. Acupuncture, however, is proven to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes for at least 3 months after treatment. That means women who are going through menopause or who’ve already gone through menopause only need to see a licensed acupuncturist once every 3 months to reap the hot flash-fighting benefits of this alternative treatment option.
The study also indicates that acupuncture may help treat insomnia and sleep-related problems in women going through menopause. The results were more inconsistent, however, with some participants experiencing greater results than others. Further research is needed before any conclusive statements can be made regarding acupuncture and menopause-related sleep problems.
The findings of this study can be found in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society.