Menopause is a normal period in a woman’s life when hormone levels decrease, and the ability to conceive ends. Although menopause is not a pathological condition, many women experience unpleasant symptoms as hormone levels drop in the body. Common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, insomnia, changes in bone density, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood swings, depression, anxiety, memory problems, bladder problems, headaches, achy joints,etc. Hot flashes and/or night sweats are the most common symptoms associated with menopause. These symptoms can become debilitating and affect daily life activity. Relief from hot flashes and night sweats has been shown to be the primary reason that women initiate hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although the research is hotly debated, HRT does have risks, including increased risks for some cancers. For this reason, HRT is generally contraindicated for women with high risk for breast cancer, or those who have already had breast cancer.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can modulate the effects of menopause in a variety of ways. Acupuncture has been shown to encourage the release of various hormones (endorphins) that affect our sense of wellbeing and perception of discomfort. Recent research suggests acupuncture is also responsible for the release of serotonin, which helps in menopausal symptoms such as abdominal pain or cramping, and changes in mood and sleep. Acupuncture and herbal medicine correct the imbalances within the meridians and organ systems that produce symptoms in some cases.

In a recent study, the number of hot flushes women experienced in a 24 hour period decreased significantly after 4 and 12 weeks in all treatment groups compared to placebo. Scores on the Kupperman menopausal index decreased in all groups except the placebo group. Another 2002 pilot study in England found that acupuncture reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women being treated with tamoxifen for breast cancer. Smaller studies have even found acupuncture to be as effective as premarin.

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[2] i Jin H, Liu TT, Wang R.[Clinical observation on acupuncture at the five-zangshu for treatment of perimenopausal syndrome]Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Aug;27(8):572-4. Chinese.

[3] Qu F, Zhou J, Nan R. Acupuncture for perimenopausal symptoms in women who underwent oophorectomy a comparative study. Forsch Komplement Med (2006). 2007 Feb;14(1):25-32

[4] Nir Y, Huang MI, Schnyer R, Chen B, Manber R.Acupuncture for postmenopausal hot flashes.Maturitas. 2007 Apr 20;56(4):383-95