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Acupuncture Linked to Less Severe Menopause Symptoms, Review Finds

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Would you ever try acupuncture for menopause symptoms? The idea of getting voluntarily stuck with a bunch of needles to relieve your hot flashes and night sweats might seem a little strange at first, but according to a recent scientific review, it might actually be worth consideration — if you have your health practitioner's OK.

A comprehensive review of earlier systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials, published in in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM), has found that women who got acupuncture had less frequent and severe vasomotor symptoms — related to blood vessel constriction and dilation — that are associated with menopause than women who did not get acupuncture. Interestingly, those same women who had acupuncture also reported improved health-related quality of life.

Lead author Deanna Befus, PhD, said she was "impressed" by the notable improvements of menopause symptoms in women who opted to get acupuncture.

"The evidence of benefit of acupuncture for bothersome vasomotor symptoms is compelling," Dr. Befus said in a release.

"Notably, while follow-up time of included studies varied, some found reductions in hot flash frequency that continued for a year," added John Weeks, the editor-in-chief of JACM. "This presents real promise for patients wrestling with bothersome vasomotor symptoms."

But before you start signing up for every acupuncture session you can find, it's worth noting that this review did not prove that doing acupuncture completely eliminates pesky menopause symptoms; rather, it found a connection between the alternative medicine practice and relief of certain symptoms associated with menopause — like hot flashes and night sweats — over time.

Always talk to your doctor before trying acupuncture — or any other type of complementary medicine — especially if you've never done it before.

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