WHAT IS IT?
During acupuncture, thin needles are put through the skin. The therapist chooses which sites to use. Needles may be given a low electric current. This is called electroacupuncture. It may be used with acupressure which uses pressure points instead of needles. It is used to treat pain and other physical, mental, and emotional conditions.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is thought to balance the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee). Qi flows through pathways (meridians) in your body. Needles inserted into meridians will re-balance energy flow.
Western medicine views the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this boosts the body’s natural painkillers.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: DOES IT HELP?
MAYBE. Acupuncture may be helpful for some aches and pains.
NO. While one summary of the studies found that acupuncture may help reduce hot flash severity, we do not share this view. There is a strong placebo effect in studies of acupuncture. Studies that used a sham (fake) acupuncture as a control showed no effect. We conclude that acupuncture does not decrease hot flash frequency, severity, or quality of life.
ACHES AND PAINS
Although acupuncture has been extensively studied for various types of pain, it has not been tested specifically for relief of menopause-related aches and pains. However, there is evidence that acupuncture may provide modest benefit for musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, or shoulder pain.
Acupuncture has not been tested specifically for relief of menopause-related weight gain. For the general population of overweight adults, it may increase weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes such as improved diet and exercise. On it’s own, acupuncture decreases body-mass-index (BMI) by a very small amount, compared to a fake acupuncture procedure.
HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS
Acupuncture does not decrease the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner using sterile needles. Contaminated needles could cause infection.
Side effects can include soreness, bleeding and bruising. Disposable needles make the risk of infection very low.
People who use blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder may bruise or bleed more.
Electroacupuncture may interfere with pacemaker function.
Some types of acupuncture may stimulate labor, which could result in a premature delivery.
QUALITY OF LIFE EXPECTATIONS
Acupuncture does not improve menopause related quality of life.
IF I WANT TO TRY THIS TREATMENT WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
We do not recommend acupuncture for menopause symptoms.
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Last reviewed February 15, 2021