New American research has found that acupuncture can reduce the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause by up to 36%.
American researchers from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have found that acupuncture treatments can reduce the number of hot flashes and night sweats suffered by women during menopause.
The study was based on 209 women, aged 45 to 69, who had not had a menstrual period for at least three months. Each participant had, on average, at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day during the two weeks preceding the study. The women were followed for one year.
One group of participants was asked to attend 20 acupuncture sessions during the first six months of the study, then to stop acupuncture treatment for the next six months. A second group only received acupuncture in the final six months of the study.
The results showed a 36.7% reduction in the frequency of symptoms for women in the first group. The beneficial effects of acupuncture were also seen to last, as the women reported a 29.4% drop in hot flashes and sweats after one year.
The study showed that the maximum benefit from this kind of treatment occurred after around eight sessions.
The second group of women, who didn't receive acupuncture during the first six months reported a 6% increase in the frequency of hormonal symptoms. After the second six-month period, when they received treatment, their symptoms were relieved almost as much as for women in the first group, showing a 31% reduction in frequency.
The researchers consider that acupuncture practiced by a qualified professional could offer an interesting natural option for improving the quality of life of certain women during the menopause. The treatment also has none of the side effects that can sometimes arise with hormonal treatments.
The physical and psychological effects of the menopause affect all women differently. Hormone-based treatments can help women suffering from hot flashes or mood swings to deal with their symptoms during this time. However, a slightly higher breast cancer risk has been found in women using hormone replacement therapies, particularly for long-term treatment.
The findings were published in the journal, "Menopause."