By Joy Daughtery Dickinson, Executive Editor, AHC Media

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Women now have a new option for easing the hot flashes and night sweats that often accompany menopause. Acupuncture treatments can reduce these symptoms by up to 36%, according to recently published research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC.

“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 six months after the treatments stopped,” said Nancy Avis, PhD, professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.

The study looked at 209 women between ages 45 and 60 who had, on average, at least four hot flashes or night sweats per day in the previous two weeks. Women were assigned to one of two groups:

  • The first group received acupuncture treatments during the first six months. After that time, they were followed without acupuncture for the next six months. \]
  • The second group did not receive any acupuncture during the first six months, but members did receive acupuncture for the second six months.

The participants were allowed up to 20 treatments within six months that were given by licensed acupuncturists. The number of acupuncture treatments, and how often they were administered, was left up to the study participants and the acupuncturists. Study participants kept a daily diary on how often they had hot flashes and how severe they were. They also answered questions about other symptoms every two months.

“There are a number of non-hormonal options for treating hot flashes and night sweats that are available to women,” Avis said. “None of these options seem to work for everyone, but our study showed that acupuncture from a licensed acupuncturist can help some women without any side effects. Our study also showed that the maximum benefit occurred after about eight treatments.”

For more on the study, see the June issue of Menopause. To keep up with women’s health news, including contraception and sexually transmitted infections, see Contraceptive Technology Update