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Laser acupuncture does not improve menopausal symptoms

O'Brien, Kylie A. PhD, B App Sci (Chin Med), MPH, BSc (Optom)1,2; Varigos, Euhna MB, BS, FANZCA, FAMAC2,3; Black, Catherine MB, Ch B DCH FRNZCGP2,4; Komesaroff, Paul A. MB, BS, BSc(Hons), MA, PhD, FRACP2

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181c72b9d
Articles

Objective: Acupuncture is commonly used to treat menopausal symptoms and other gynecological conditions. Laser acupuncture, more accurately named "laser acupoint stimulation," has the advantages of being noninvasive, reproducible, and convenient. A few studies of conventional acupuncture have suggested a beneficial effect in treating menopausal symptoms. This study sought to investigate the effectiveness of laser acupoint stimulation in relieving symptoms associated with menopause.

Methods: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 40 women experiencing active symptoms of menopause. Outcome variables were numbers of diurnal and nocturnal flushes and symptom score, determined using a previously validated scale. A laser acupoint stimulation device was altered to produce identical flashing lights whether or not the laser was operating to allow for a placebo ("laser off") control. Participants received either active or placebo treatment on a fortnightly basis for 12 weeks. The acupoint selection in both groups was individualized to each participant, selected from a set of 10 acupoints.

Results: There were no significant differences between the active and placebo treatment groups in numbers of diurnal or nocturnal flushes or in nonflushing symptom scores.

Conclusions: Laser acupoint stimulation chosen from a fixed set of acupoints is no more efficacious than manual stimulation with an inert laser probe in altering menopausal symptoms.

Laser acupoint stimulation chosen from a fixed set of acupoints is no more efficacious than manual stimulation with an inert laser probe in altering menopausal symptoms.

From the 1Victoria University Faculty of Health, Engineering, and Science, Melbourne, Australia; 2Monash University Department of Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; 3Monash Surgical Private Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; and 4The Menopause and Midlife Women's Clinic, The Oxford Clinic, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Received August 21, 2009; revised and accepted October 19, 2009.

Funding/support: This study was supported by the Medical Acupuncture College, Australia.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Paul A. Komesaroff, MB, BS, BSc(Hons), MA, PhD, FRACP, Monash University Department of Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Prahran, Victoria 3181, Australia. E-mail: paul.komesaroff@med.monash.edu.au

©2010The North American Menopause Society