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Menopause and Acupuncture

Causes of Menopause

The menopause occurs in all women. It can occur when the ovaries spontaneously fail to produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone, when the ovaries fail due to specific treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or when the ovaries are removed, often at the time of a hysterectomy. The resulting low and changing levels of hormones, particularly estrogen, are thought to be the cause of menopausal symptoms in many women.

Symptoms of Menopause

  1. Physical Symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, palpitations, joint aches and headaches.
  2. Psychological Symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty coping forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating are related to hormonal changes, either directly or indirectly, for example due to sleep disturbance.
  3. Sexual Problems may be caused by vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels, resulting in discomfort during intercourse.
  4. Other Symptoms
    1. Passing urine more frequently by day and night and leakage of urine
    2. Urine infection and vaginal dryness, discomfort, burning and itching
    3. Skin may become dryer, thinner, less elastic and more prone to bruising
    4. Hair thinning, dryness and the growth of unwanted hair.

Why acupuncture helps?

For women who are undergoing the menopausal transition, it is believed that acupuncture can aid the body's own adaptive changes to hormones and help relieve menopause symptoms. The central nervous system not only transmits signals along the nerves, but also emits a variety of biochemicals that influence other cells of the body. The nervous system, with over 30 peptides involved in transmitting signals, is connected to the hormonal system via the adrenal gland, and it makes connections to every cell and system of the body. Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either relieve the symptoms of menopause or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influences the body’s own internal regulating system.

Acupuncture vs HRT

Although hormonal approaches are an important and beneficial treatment for some women, others do not like this common treatment that is dominant in Western medicine. HRT comes with a range of side effects including an increased risk of stroke and certain cancers. Instead of the standard hormone replacement therapy offered by most Western gynaecologists, Chinese Medical Practitioners treat each woman individually, taking into account the whole pattern of each patient’s physical and emotional symptoms. For example, five women may come into a clinic with hot flushes, but each of these women’s hot flushes is accompanied by a variety of different signs and symptoms, no two of which are exactly alike. Instead of each woman getting the same hormone replacement therapy, each of these five women will receive an individually tailored treatment plan with different acupuncture therapy, different herbs and massage therapy and lifestyle suggestions.

Research & Evidence

From 1997 to 1999, in one of the first studies in the US to explore the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating hot flashes, insomnia and nervousness, conducted by Dr. Susan Cohen, D.S.N., APRN, it was found that during the course of acupuncture treatments, hot flashes, insomnia and nervousness significantly decreased in those receiving acupuncture, compared to those receiving routine care. A 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.

  • "Acupuncture treatment regulates unstable hormone levels during menopause, helping with hot flushes, but it can also help with insomnia, headaches and migraines,"---Ms Jacqueline Brown clinical director of the UK Natural Health and Fertility Clinic
  • “The results of the studies tend to indicate there is benefit in the use of acupuncture in the alleviation of menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes and anxiety”---British Acupuncture Council

How long will the treatment take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary depending on the severity of the condition and how long you have had it. Typical treatments last 45 minutes, with the patient being treated twice a week. Ten to twenty treatments per course are standard. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.

Long Term Effect of Menopause

The two most important long-tem effects of reduced estrogen levels involve the effects on the skeleton and the cardiovascular system.

1. Increased risk of osteoporosis

Loss of bone bulk and osteoporosis are natural features of ageing, but loss of estrogen accelerates the process in post-menopausal women. You can reduce your risk of osteoporosis by taking short, frequent sessions of weight-bearing exercise, eating plenty of calcium, giving up smoking and moderating alcohol consumption.

2. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women after the menopause. As estrogen levels fall, the protective effect on the heart is lost and changes occur which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. You can reduce your risk of CVD by maintaining a healthy weight and stopping smoking.

Assisting Treatments

Acupressure (Chinese Medical Massage)

Every woman reacts differently to the bodily changes that occur during menopause. Some women manage with confidence, while others may be overwhelmed and not so apt at controlling their emotions. Whatever the case may be, massage can significantly reduce the anxiety and pain and increases relaxation. It can help a woman cope with and manage menopausal discomfort with greater ease.


Herbs are used to treat menopause because they are believed to help regulate estrogen levels, as well as to reduce the severity of common symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes. It helps to balance hormones and can help ward off depression and increase memories.


Cupping affects the body’s tissue up to four inches deep. This causes tissue to release toxins, clears blockages, activates the lymphatic system and helps to clear the veins and arteries. Cupping is thought to be the best form of deep tissue massage available and is safe and reliable for most people.


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