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Acupuncture for Menopause

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Updated June 01, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

For relief of symptoms associated with menopause, some women seek treatment with acupuncture. A needle-based therapy long used in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is sometimes touted as a natural means of addressing the hormonal changes commonly experienced by women during menopause.

While studies on acupuncture and menopause have yielded mixed results, there's some evidence that acupuncture may help ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and sleep disturbance.

The Science Behind Acupuncture and Menopause

Acupuncture may help reduce the number of hot flashes experienced during menopause, according to a research review published in 2010.

A review published the previous year, on the other hand, found no evidence that acupuncture can protect against hot flashes. This review's authors analyzed 11 clinical trials (with a total of 764 patients), some of which demonstrated that acupuncture treated menopausal symptoms more effectively than hormone therapy. However, the authors note that many of the analyzed studies were small and of poor quality.

Individual studies indicate that acupuncture may help ease sleep problems associated with menopause, as well as improve quality of life among women undergoing menopause. However, these findings need to be replicated in larger studies before acupuncture can be recommended as a treatment for menopausal symptoms.

Other Natural Approaches to Menopause

If you're seeking a natural approach to alleviating menopausal symptoms, there's some evidence that practicing yoga and/or taking herbal supplements (such as black cohosh, red clover, and soy) may offer some benefit. It should be noted that -— as with acupuncture —- there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of herbs and yoga in reducing menopausal symptoms.

Should You Use Acupuncture During Menopause?

Although acupuncture has not been proven effective in treating menopausal symptoms, the therapy is generally considered safe and may offer other health benefits. To manage your menopausal symptoms, consider self-care strategies such as following a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep. If you're considering the use of acupuncture for the treatment of symptoms associated with menopause (or a chronic health condition), make sure to consult your physician before beginning your acupuncture sessions.

Sources:

Avis NE, Legault C, Coeytaux RR, Pian-Smith M, Shifren JL, Chen W, Valaskatgis P. "A randomized, controlled pilot study of acupuncture treatment for menopausal hot flashes." Menopause. 2008 15(6):1070-8.

Booth-LaForce C, Thurston RC, Taylor MR. "A pilot study of a Hatha yoga treatment for menopausal symptoms." Maturitas. 2007 20;57(3):286-95.

Borud E, White A. "A review of acupuncture for menopausal problems." Maturitas. 2010 66(2):131-4.

Cho SH, Whang WW. "Acupuncture for vasomotor menopausal symptoms: a systematic review." Menopause. 2009 16(5):1065-73.

Cohen SM, Rousseau ME, Carey BL. "Can acupuncture ease the symptoms of menopause?" Holist Nurs Pract. 2003 17(6):295-9.

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