Acupuncture for menopause – a trusted option
Acupuncture for menopause is a popular natural therapy. Here, we will examine why many women are turning away from treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy, and how this time-tested natural alternative can support you when going through menopause.
While some women have no significant issues with the transition from fertility into their menopausal years, others tend to experience unpleasant symptoms. Embarrassing hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings can have a considerable impact to your day-to-day life.
Pharmaceutical corporations offer several treatments such as hormone replacement therapy to reduce the menopause symptoms. However, HRT is not an ideal fit for all women.
Learn how acupuncture may help you deal with menopause symptoms safely and effectively.
Women who had acupuncture reported a significant decrease in hot flashes, excess sweating, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and skin and hair problems.
“Acupuncture a Realistic Option vs HRT for Hot Flashes” Medscape March 2019
Hormone Replacement As A Treatment For Menopausal Symptoms
The orthodox treatment for women undergoing menopause usually includes a prescription for hormone replacement medication.
There are different types of hormone replacement therapies. None the less, they all have the same goal – to compensate naturally reduced hormones. HRT uses either specific types of synthetic or sometimes bioidentical hormones.
Estrogen was the first synthetic hormone replacement therapy drug. It was first used in 1928 as an injectable treatment.
Later, in 1942, oral medication containing estrogen for menopausal symptoms became available.
Unfortunately, the estrogen only treatment caused dangerous side effects. That’s the reason why today, doctors mostly prescribe combination therapy. This treatment combines estrogen with other hormones that naturally decline with menopause.
The idea behind the treatment is to help reduce symptoms like depression, mood swings, irritability, and hot flashes.
While considered somewhat effective for some women, hormone replacement therapy is known to cause a number of side-effects such as:
- Tenderness and swelling in the breasts
- Mood changes
- Vaginal bleeding
- Fluid retention
- Increased blood pressure
Hormone replacement therapy is also not an appropriate treatment option for women with the existing liver, heart disease, blood clotting issues, as well as those patients who have had a heart attack or stroke.
More serious risks of HRT
HRT has been shown to increase the life-threatening risks of blood clots and certain types of cancer like breast and ovarian cancer. For example, a review in 2015 found that the incidence of ovarian cancer has increased in certain cases.
A study published in 2019 found that HRT may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Not every woman will experience the immediate side-effects. But every woman on HRT will be exposed to the serious and long-term risks. These risks need to be taken into consideration when considering the pharmaceutical treatment option. However, the latest treatment consensus is that carefully chosen HRT benefits outweigh the risks for some women.
Read more about these risks on the National Health Services (UK) website.
Another option available in New Zealand is natural HRT with so called bioidentical hormones. It means that medication is more similar to your own natural hormones compared to the synthetic ones.
The problem with Natural HRT is that it has not been well researched. There no good evidence to suggest that is any safer or more effective than conventional HRT.
Acupuncture for menopausal symptoms: what to expect
A study led by the Wake Forest School of Medicine, looked at how acupuncture may help with menopause symptoms especially hot flashes. In this study 209 women between the ages of 45 and 60 had at least 20 acupuncture sessions over six months.
Researchers concluded women had experienced a significant reduction in the following menopausal symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Somatic symptoms
Overall, women also noted significant improvements in their overall quality of life. Following the study, acupuncture’s benefits continued for a minimum period of six months.
In the same study, researchers had a control group. Women had no acupuncture, but their symptoms were observed. The control group’s (who had no acupupuncture) hot flashes and night sweats got worse over a period of six months.
Does acupuncture for menopause give an instant relief?
In a recent Danish study, patients with menopause symptoms had acupuncture for 6 weeks. Their symptoms like hot flashes, day and night sweats, general sweating and menopause related sleep problems started to improve significantly after three weeks of regular acupuncture. Study authors agree that 6 weeks, it’s a brief treatment for menopause symptoms. As you can see from the previous study, the longer treatment course will give you longer lasting effect.
How does acupuncture help with menopause symptoms?
From the previous studies we know that acupuncture, may alleviate menopausal symptoms by increasing the levels of Estrogen and decreasing LH (Luthenising Hormone).
Thermoregulation is another way how acupuncture helps with menopause symptoms. Your body has an internal thermostat. It signals when you feel hot or cold. In menopausal women that thermostat becomes super sensitive. Even with small temperature changes your body responds like you would be in a heat wave. It starts to cool you, resulting in excessive sweating – a hot flash.
Studies show that acupuncture can stabilize your thermoregulatory center by balancing serotonin and norepinephrine in your central nervous system.