Acupuncture for menopause – a trusted natural 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 improve your quality of life 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, brain fog 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 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
In 2002 a large clinical trial of hormone replacement therapy for healthy post-menopausal women has been halted early because the data showed clearly that the risks outweigh the benefits. There was increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and stroke. And while some researchers argue that there are flaws in the study, the controversy about the risks of HRT remains. This is the reason only about 14% of women take HRT according to the data from UK.
There have been other studies looking into the effects of HRT since. And while some recommend use of HRT, others are less positive, like a review in 2015 found that the incidence of ovarian cancer has increased, or this 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 seriously 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.
However, natural HRT has not been as researched well. There no good evidence to suggest that is any safer nor more effective than conventional HRT.
Turning To Acupuncture As An Alternative Effective Therapy
If you’re seeking an effective, safe and natural alternative to HRT, you’re not alone. Most kiwi women are concerned about the risks associated with hormonal treatments. Furthermore, some women don’t get symptom relief from taking hormones or can’t take HRT because of preexisting health conditions.
This is when you discover acupuncture. The question is how effective is acupuncture helping you regain your new balance and alleviating menopause symptoms.
Acupuncture “eased bothersome menopausal symptoms, notably, hot flashes”
“Acupuncture a Realistic Option vs HRT for Hot Flashes” Medscape March 2019
Multiple studies exploring the effect of acupuncture for menopause show that this natural therapy leads to significant benefits.
So, the good news is, this treatment can help and virtually with no any side effects. In fact, studies have confirmed that acupuncture is very safe when done by qualified acupuncturist.
How does acupuncture help with menopause symptoms?
Acupuncture reaches into nervous system and regulates hormones to help your body to self-regulate and heal. Estimated 25% of women going through menopause do not experience any unpleasant symptoms without help of HRT. And while we do not know the reason for this, acupuncture potentially could help you be one of those lucky people.
What does the science say? Studies show that acupuncture may alleviate menopausal symptoms by increasing the levels of Estrogen and decreasing LH (Luteinising Hormone).
Thermoregulation is another way how acupuncture helps with menopause symptoms. Your body has a thermoregulatory center, which is like a thermostat. 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.
Acupuncture for menopausal symptoms: what to expect
A study led by the Wake Forest School of Medicine, explored 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:
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 groups (women who had no acupuncture) hot flashes and night sweats got worse over a period of six months.
We found that a course of acupuncture treatments was associated with significant reduction in VMS*, and several quality-of-life measures, compared with no acupuncture, and that clinical benefit persisted for at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment.
*WMS refers to vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes, are caused by a sudden increase of blood flow to the face, neck, and chest. This leads to the sensation of extreme heat and profuse sweating.
Does acupuncture for menopause give an instant relief?
In a recent Danish study, patients with menopause symptoms had acupuncture treatments 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.
Going through menopause can be tough. Bothersome symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes, depression will affect women’s careers and personal lives.
Hormone replacement therapy poses as an effective treatment option, but there is a controversy about side-effects and risks. As a result, many women are deservedly apprehensive about this pharmaceutical treatment.
Acupuncture can be an effective natural alternative. It may reduce undesired menopause symptoms and improve your quality of life.
It may help you find your new balance, new you.