Menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and usually occurs around 51 years of age. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years (peri menopause) until they completely stop (menopause). Around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age, this is referred to as premature ovarian insufficiency.
The changes in hormone levels during peri menopause and menopause particularly the decline in oestrogen, can cause acute menopausal symptoms. Many women experience vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushed and night sweats. Some women also report vaginal dryness and psychological symptoms, including tiredness, poor sleep, forgetfulness and mood swings.
The most commonly used conventional medical treatment for such symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), comprising an oestrogen alone (in women who have had a hysterectomy) or in combination with a progestogen. HRT is now only indicated for short-term treatment of menopausal symptoms in the UK.
Acupuncture for hot flushes and anxiety
A recent study published in The British Medical Journal states” Acupuncture may ease menopausal symptoms.” The study links acupuncture to reductions in hot flushes, sweating, mood swings, sleep disturbance and hair problems.
The findings prompt the researchers to conclude that acupuncture offers “a realistic” treatment option for women who can’t, or don’t want to, use hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Menopausal symptoms are common, and depending on their severity, can have a major impact on quality of life, health and wellbeing, as well as productivity.
Hormonal and other drugs can treat the various symptoms, but they are not without side effects. And the evidence for other non-pharmacological approaches, such as exercise, relaxation, and herbal/dietary remedies, isn’t very convincing, say the researchers.
At six weeks most (80%) of the women in the acupuncture group, said that they felt that the sessions had helped them.
Colette Assor is a natural menopause specialist with 25 years experience in practising holistic care and over 21 years post graduate clinical experience as a registered acupuncturist. Colette is a member of The British Acupuncture Council and The British Medical Acupuncture Society.