Acupuncture is an effective treatment for menopausal hot flashes, maintaining an improvement over baseline for at least 3 months after treatment, according to data presented at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2014 Annual Meeting.
Previous studies of acupuncture treatment for menopausal hot flashes have only reported end-of-treatment data, researchers wrote in an abstract. To investigate whether benefits persist after treatment, they examined both end-of-treatment results as well as post-treatment follow-up data.
For this study, peri- or postmenopausal women reporting an average of at least four hot flashes per day were recruited and randomly assigned to an acupuncture or waitlist control group. Women in the acupuncture group could receive up to 20 acupuncture treatments over a 6-month period followed by 6 months without treatment. In the control group, women were followed for 6 months with no treatment and were then allowed to receive 20 acupuncture treatments over the next 6-month period.
Both groups were allowed to vary their treatment frequency in order to examine the effectiveness of different treatment patterns. For the first 6 months, all participants kept daily diaries of the frequency and severity of their hot flashes, and they completed one weekly diary per month thereafter.
Of the 209 women enrolled in the study, 184 completed the 6-month follow up. Participants in the acupuncture group received a median of 19 treatments.
At 6 months, the frequency of daily hot flashes decreased by 34.5% in the acupuncture group and increased by 2.4% in the control group (P<.0001). At 9 months, the decrease in frequency from baseline was 28.4% in the acupuncture group (a 6.1% increase from 6 months; P=.02). The control group experienced a 21.3% decrease in frequency from baseline.
The results of this study show a clear benefit of acupuncture treatment for menopausal hot flashes. The effects begin to decline 3 months following treatment, but there is still an improvement over baseline, the researchers concluded.
- Avis NE et al. Abstract P-33. Presented at: North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2014 Annual Meeting; Oct. 15-18, 2014; Washington, D.C.