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Acupuncture Eases Hot Flashes For Half Of All Women, Study Finds

With hot flashes often lasting longer than seven years, we'll try anything.

Hot flashes ― which last an average of 7.4 years ― can be cut in frequency by almost half for about 50 percent of women with the help of eight weeks of acupuncture treatment, according to the scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

In a report published in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal, Menopause, scientists reported that about half the women in the Wake Forest study experienced an easing in the frequency of hot flashes, while half did not.

“Women bothered by hot flashes and night sweats may want to give acupuncture a try as a relatively low-cost, low-risk treatment,” said Dr. Nancy Avis, lead author of the study, in a written statement released by Wake Forest. “Women will know pretty quickly if acupuncture will work for them. Women who had a reduction in their hot flashes saw a benefit beginning after about three to four weeks of weekly treatments.”

She and the other researchers examined 209 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women between the ages of 45 and 60 who experienced an average of at least four hot flashes per day. Of the 170 women who received acupuncture, nearly 12 percent enjoyed an 85 percent reduction in hot flashes by the eighth week of the study. Nearly half reported a nearly 50 percent reduction over the same time period. 

While the results were encouraging, Avis said researchers were unable to pinpoint ahead of time which types of women would benefit most from acupuncture.

“We had hoped to identify some of the characteristics of the women who benefitted from acupuncture, but like so many treatments, we could not really tell ahead of time who would benefit,” Avis said.

About 80 percent of women experience hot flashes or night sweats during menopause. Although the point at which symptoms start can vary, depending on the woman, hot flashes often last longer than seven years.

In addition to acupuncture, previous studies have found that certain herbal supplements also can help reduce hot flashes. Hypnosis, too, has been known to help.

Since hot flashes are the most frequent symptom of menopause and perimenopause and — quite possibly — the most annoying, we’ll try anything to get rid of them.

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