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Can Acupuncture Ease the Symptoms of Menopause?

Cohen, Susan M. DSN, C-FNP; Rousseau, Mary Ellen MS, CNM; Carey, Bonnie L. OMD, LAc, RN


In a randomized, 2-group clinical study, acupuncture was used for the relief of menopausal hot flushes, sleep disturbances, and mood changes. The experimental acupuncture treatment consisted of specific acupuncture body points related to menopausal symptoms. The comparison acupuncture treatment consisted of a treatment designated as a general tonic specifically designed to benefit the flow of Ch'i (energy). Results from the experimental acupuncture treatment group showed a decrease in mean monthly hot flush severity for site-specific acupuncture. The comparison acupuncture treatment group had no significant change in severity from baseline over the treatment phase. Sleep disturbances in the experimental acupuncture treatment group declined over the study. Mood changes in both the experimental acupuncture treatment group and the comparison acupuncture treatment group showed a significant difference between the baseline and the third month of the study. Acupuncture using menopausal-specific sites holds promise for nonhormonal relief of hot flushes and sleep disturbances.

Menopausal symptoms impact the lives of individual women, their families, their productivity, and their lives within their communities. 1–4 While hormone replacement therapy (HRT), now known as hormone therapy (HT), is the most often cited remedy for menopausal symptoms, nonhormonal interventions are preferred by some women and by nearly all women with menopausal symptoms induced or accelerated by breast cancer treatment. 5 Previous small-sample studies indicate that nonhormonal treatments are effective in relieving the symptoms associated with menopause. 6 Nonhormonal therapies for menopause symptom relief include pharmacologic therapies 7,8 (eg, clonidine, veralipride, metaclopramide, sulpride, venlafaxine), herbs (E. Robinson and S.M. Cohen, unpublished data, 1999) (black cohosh, red clover), dietary alterations 9–11 (phytoestrogens), paced respirations, 12 physical activity, 13,14 and acupuncture. Acupuncture holds promise for short-term management (3–5 years) of menopausal symptoms, and this study was conducted to explore the efficacy of acupuncture for menopausal symptom relief.

From the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa (Cohen)

The Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, Conn. (Rousseau)

Ms Carey is in private practice, in Salem, Conn. (Carey)

This study was supported by a Yale University School of Nursing Intramural Grant.

Corresponding author: Susan M. Cohen, DSN, C-FNP, University of Pittsburgh, 440 Victoria Bldg, 3500 Victoria St, Pittsburgh, PA 15261 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.