A brief and standardized acupuncture treatment may effectively reduce moderate to severe symptoms of menopause, especially hot flushes — experienced by 75% of menopausal women — according to a study published in BMJ Open.

Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of 70 women aged 40 to 65 years to investigate the efficacy of acupuncture on diminishing bothersome symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, day-and-night sweats, general sweating, and menopausal-specific sleeping problems. Hot flushes were rated using the MenoScore Questionnaire, with scores ≥4 classified as moderate to severe, 1 of the inclusion criterion for this study.

Because no placebo for acupuncture exists, participants in the intervention group (n=36) received their treatment within the first 5 weeks of study enrollment, and those in the control group (n=34) received theirs after 6 weeks. All participants were offered 1 treatment per week for 5 weeks. No other therapy for menopausal symptoms was permitted beginning 4 weeks before enrollment until week 11 of follow-up.

The outcome measures were the differences in menopausal symptoms between the groups during the 6-week study period, as measured by changes to the mean scores on the MenoScore Questionnaire. The primary outcome was the scale of hot flushes; secondary outcomes included the remaining menopausal symptoms assessed in the MenoScore Questionnaire.

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Results of the study indicated that the intervention group was significantly less burdened by hot flushes at 3 weeks (difference, −1.5) and 6 weeks (difference, −1.6). For secondary outcomes, statistically significant differences were identified at 6 weeks for day-to-night sweats (−1.2), general sweats (−0.9), menopause-specific sleeping difficulties (−1.8), emotional symptoms (−3.4), physical symptoms (−1.7), and skin and hair symptoms (−1.5). A total of 80% of participants in the intervention group reported a general beneficial treatment effect after 6 weeks, and no serious harms or adverse events were reported, indicating that treatment of menopausal symptoms with acupuncture could lead to new treatment options.

“Acupuncture for menopausal symptoms is a realistic option for women who cannot or do not wish to use [hormone therapy],” the authors concluded.

Reference

Lund KS, Siersma V, Brodersen J, Waldorff FB. Efficacy of a standardised acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomised study in primary care (the ACOM study). BMJ Open. 2019;9(1):e023637.