Menopause Hot Flash relief using Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

Menopause Hot Flash relief using Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine

28 November 2015 by Caitlin Armit

What happens during menopause?

 

Menopause, the cessation of menstrual cycles, occurs with the decline of blood oestrogen and the ovaries no longer releasing eggs. Perimenopause is the term given to the years leading up to menopause during which the menstrual cycle is present but increasingly irregular. The decline of oestrogen (‘yin’ in Chinese Medicine) triggers menopausal symptoms such as:

 

  • Nightsweats & hot flashes (referred to as vasomotor symptoms because they are due to blood vessel expansion)
  • Insomnia
  • Lowered libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Heightened irritability
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Musculoskeletal complaints (e.g. frozen shoulder, tendinopathy)

 

These symptoms are consistent with the Chinese Medicine diagnosis of ‘yin deficiency’. It is said that by our mid forties we have consumed a large portion of our yin reserves, partly due to lifestyle factors and partly because this is the way our bodies are designed. In Chinese Medicine, yin and yang mutually support each other – therefore when yin is deficient, there may be signs of yang (progesterone) imbalance also.

 

Women experience these symptoms over varying time periods and to different degrees however night sweats and hot flashes are the primary concern for many women as they are frequent and intense, and they greatly interfere with comfort levels and quality of life. Some patients describe hot flashes as “feeling like your internal organs are on fire” or that they have “just jumped into a furnace”. Similarly, patients describe night sweats as being drowned in hot water.

 

Western Medicine Treatments

 

Western Medicine treatment may involve the administration of some antidepressants that reduce the dilation of blood vessels or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) using oestrogen alone (if you’ve had a hysterectomy) or both oestrogen and progesterone. HRT is often endorsed for short-term treatment only due to concerns relating to the link between long-term HRT and more serious illnesses such as breast cancer and heart attacks.

 

Does acupuncture reduce symptoms of menopause?

 

In 2015, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials reported the effects of acupuncture on symptoms of menopause and quality of life. The main symptom of focus was the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Over 100 relevant studies were sourced and 12 of these (those which met the research criteria) were included for examination. These studies reflect a total of 869 participants. The meta-analysis revealed that acupuncture significantly reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes as well as the psychological, somatic and urogenital symptoms of women in natural menopause. This research also noted that acupuncture treatments provided relief for women for up to 3 months.

 

Why use acupuncture?

 

Acupuncture is a gentle treatment which works to restore natural balance of yin and yang in the body. In Chinese Medicine, we diagnose based on a variety of methods including tongue and pulse examination, detailed questioning of diet and lifestyle factors, observation of physical characteristics and palpation of channels. This means that two women both experiencing hot flashes may have different Chinese Medicine diagnoses and this in turn allows for a more personalized treatment that utilizes points best suited to the individuals needs. An additional benefit of this style of treatment is that Chinese Medicine practitioners can use this information to address other health concerns such as insomnia, problems with memory, concentration or alertness, muscular aches and pains, headaches, dizziness and more. Another great reason to try acupuncture is that the risk of adverse effects is low both in frequency and severity, particularly when compared to conventional medicine.

 

 

Effects of acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and quality of life in women in natural menopause: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Acupuncture Evidence Project

 
Categories: Brisbane Acupuncture Blog | Women's Health Brisbane

 
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