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  • Writer's picturePhoebus Tian

Acupuncture may help troublesome menopause and perimenopause symptoms

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It is believed to promote healing and restore balance to the body's natural energy flow. In recent years, acupuncture has gained increasing attention as a treatment option for menopause, a natural transition that all women go through as they age.

What is perimenopause?

During menopause, women experience a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, leading to a range of physical and emotional menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances(insomnia), mood swings, vaginal dryness and decreased libido. These symptoms can significantly impact a woman's quality of life and can last for several years.

While hormone replacement therapy is the most effective treatment for symptoms of menopause, some women may prefer a more natural approach or may not be suitable candidates for hormone therapy. In these cases, acupuncture may be a suitable alternative.

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms

Menopause is a natural transition that occurs in women as they age. It is marked by the end of menstrual periods and fertility, and it typically occurs in a woman's late 40s to early 50s. The most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular periods, and vaginal dryness. Other possible symptoms include mood changes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and changes in hair and skin.

How do acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine help perimenopause and menopause?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), perimenopause is seen as a natural transition that occurs as a woman approaches menopause. It is characterized by hormonal changes that can lead to a range of physical and emotional symptoms.

According to TCM theory, perimenopause is caused by a decline in the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are thought to be closely tied to the body's natural energy flow, known as Qi (pronounced "chee"). When hormone levels drop, it can disrupt the balance of Qi and lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and decreased libido.

In TCM, the goal of treatment during perimenopause is to restore balance to the body's natural energy flow and alleviate symptoms. Acupuncture is often used to promote the flow of Qi and restore balance to the body. Herbal remedies may also be recommended to help regulate hormone levels and support overall well-being during this time of transition.

It's worth noting that TCM views perimenopause and menopause as natural phases of a woman's life and sees them as opportunities for growth and transformation. As such, treatment is focused not just on relieving symptoms but on supporting a woman's overall well-being during this time of change.

Does acupuncture really work for menopause?

Several studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in relieving symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that acupuncture was more effective than a placebo in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Another study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that acupuncture was effective in improving sleep quality in menopausal women.

In one study (Di, 2019)CHM and acupuncture treatment in perimenopause and menopausal women resulted in reduced severity of depression.In addition to its potential to alleviate menopausal symptoms, acupuncture may also have other health benefits. Some research suggests that it can help to reduce stress, reduce hot flushes, improve mood, and boost energy levels in menopausal women.

It's important to note that acupuncture is not a one-size-fits-all treatment, and what works for one woman may not work for another. It's also essential to choose a qualified and experienced practitioner to ensure the best possible results.

How many sessions of acupuncture treatment do you need for menopause?

The number of acupuncture sessions needed for menopause can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. Some women may see improvement after just a few sessions, while others may require more extensive treatment. In general, acupuncture is a cumulative treatment, meaning that the benefits tend to build up over time with regular sessions.

It is common for practitioners to recommend a series of treatments, often spaced out weekly or biweekly at the beginning. As symptoms improve, the frequency of treatments may be reduced. For example, a typical treatment plan for menopause might involve weekly sessions for the first month, followed by biweekly sessions for the second month, and then monthly maintenance sessions.

It's worth noting that every woman is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's important to listen to your body and find what works best for you.

It's worth noting that acupuncture is not a quick fix, and it may take several weeks or even months to see significant improvement. It's important to be patient and to follow your practitioner's recommendations for treatment frequency.

It's also worth noting that acupuncture should be viewed as part of a holistic approach to managing menopause. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management techniques can all help to alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Chinese Medicine Lifestyle Tips for Menopause and Perimenopause

Here are some lifestyle tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine for managing menopause and perimenopause:

  1. Eat a balanced diet: A healthy diet is crucial for maintaining overall well-being during menopause. TCM recommends eating a diet that is rich in whole, nourishing foods and avoiding processed and refined foods.

  2. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining balance in the body. Aim to drink at least 8 cups of water per day.

  3. Get regular exercise: Exercise can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and regulate hormone levels. Incorporating activities such as walking, qigong, and tai chi into your daily routine.

  4. Get enough sleep: Sleep disturbances are common during menopause. Establishing a regular sleep routine, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

  5. Manage stress: Stress can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Incorporating stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and acupuncture into your daily routine.

What to expect during acupuncture treatment for menopause?

During an acupuncture treatment for menopause, you will lie down on a treatment table. The practitioner will insert thin needles into specific points on the body. These points are located along pathways called meridians, which are believed to be channels through which the body's energy, or qi, flows. Acupuncture is believed to help restore balance to the body's natural energy flow, and it is often used to help alleviate a variety of health problems, including menopausal symptoms.

The needles are usually left in place for about 20-30 minutes, and you may feel a tingling sensation or a dull ache when they are inserted. Some people experience a feeling of relaxation during the treatment, while others feel energized.

In conclusion, acupuncture may be a useful option for women seeking relief from menopausal symptoms and may offer additional health benefits. While more research is needed to understand the effect of acupuncture and optimal use fully, acupuncture has shown promise as a safe and effective treatment for menopause.

Bishop, K. C., Ford, A. C., Kuller, J. A., & Dotters-Katz, S. (2019). Acupuncture in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Obstetrical & gynecological survey, 74(4), 241–251.

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