Many menopausal women seem to be unable to find relief from some of the more common symptoms related to this uncomfortable transition.
Chief among the complaints is the constant hot flashes (as well as the frequent night sweats).
It’s believed 75% of women will suffer from hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause and menopause. For many women, this occurs only a few times a week; for some, it’s multiple times a day.
So why do women have to deal with these uncomfortable waves of heat? The most likely explanation probably has to do with drops in estrogen levels. When these levels drop, it’s assumed an area of the brain responsible for regulating your body temperature is affected.
As this happens, the body’s normal ability to self-regulate temperature is corrupted, causing it to overreact to slight, imperceptible changes in ambient temperature.
We believe body temperature rises to try and get its core temperature back to normal. Physiologically, the hot flashes are a result of blood flooding the capillaries and blood vessels as the body tries to reattain normal core temperature (even though it hasn’t really been affected).
Though this is the most popular theory, we’re still not sure why hot flashes and night sweats happen.
And that’s made them difficult to treat.
How Acupuncture Can Help Treat Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
In a study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist School of Medicine (my alma mater) and published in the journal Menopause, researchers determined the use of an alternative health therapy called “acupuncture” could help relieve symptoms.
Most of you are probably familiar with acupuncture – it’s an ancient Chinese medical technique where practitioners stick very thin needles into specific regions of your skin to manipulate electrical signals generated by the body.
It’s believed acupuncture has the ability to regulate pain, but studies of its effectiveness in this matter have proven inconclusive.
In the case of using acupuncture for menopause, it was discovered women who received treatment were 36.7% less likely to have hot flashes or night sweats over those who did not receive the treatment.
As Medical News Today writes:
Lead author Nancy Avis, professor of public health sciences, says:
“Although acupuncture does not work for every woman, our study showed that, on average, acupuncture effectively reduced the frequency of hot flashes and results were maintained for 6 months after the treatments stopped.”
Prof. Avis says they left decisions about frequency and number of treatments to the participants and their acupuncturists, so the study could be as close to the “real world” as possible.
After the first 6 months, the treatment group reported 36.7 percent fewer hot flashes per day, compared with before they started treatment. In contrast, the comparison group reported an increase of 6 percent.
The interesting thing is this study was not originally performed to assess acupuncture’s ability to stop hot flashes.
Avis’s comments indicated it might have been the extra care the participants received from their acupuncturists that could have helped ease their menopausal symptoms.
But, on that note, I might as well add this study also showed women who had acupuncture treatment received other ancillary benefits as well.
Surveys of the subjects indicated acupuncture generally increased the subject’s quality of life.
Something to consider.