Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that acupuncture treatments can reduce the symptoms of menopause by as much as 36%. The study was published in the June issue of the journal Menopause and funded by the National Institutes of Health.
To be a part of the study the women had to meet the following specifications:
- Between 45 and 60 years old
- Hadn’t had a menstrual period for at least 3 months
- Had an average of 4 hot flashes or night sweats every 24 hours
Researchers took baseline assessments, and then randomized 209 women into two groups. Group 1 received up to 20 acupuncture treatments for the first 6 months, and no acupuncture treatments for the second 6 months. Group 2 did not receive acupuncture for the first 6 months, but did received up to 20 acupuncture treatments for the second 6 months.
Licensed and experienced acupuncturists administered all treatments, and the frequency and number of treatments were determined by patient and acupuncturist, not by the researchers, in an effort to simulate a “real world” experience.
Participants recorded the severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats on a daily basis, and filled out questionnaires regarding other symptoms of menopause once every 6 months. Researchers measured these responses against the baseline assessments to determine the effect of the acupuncture treatments.
Group 1 experienced an average 36.7% decline in the frequency of symptoms compared to baseline measurements. Six months after treatment ended, the women in group 1 were still benefitting from an average 29.4% reduction.
Group 2 experienced a 6% increase in the frequency of symptoms during the first 6 months of no acupuncture, but during the second 6 months of acupuncture treatments, participants showed an average 31% decline in hot flashes and night sweats.
Nancy Avis, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study, summarized the results: “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.”
Researchers note that the benefit seen may also be influenced by the additional care the women received, as well as the expected benefit. More research is needed to confirm the results, but with no side effects experienced, acupuncture is definitely a viable and safe treatment for women wishing to decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes.