Menopausal hot flashes, which can occur several times a day and make you sweat profusely at night, impact well-being and sleep. If estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy is effective, not all women want to take it or are not entitled to it because there are many contraindications. The same goes for herbal medicine based on estrogenic plants like soybeans or hops. It is therefore always interesting to have a solution without hormones.
Hot flashes reduced by more than a third thanks to acupuncture
Good news: acupuncture helps reduce this symptom of menopause. A study published in 2016 in the journal Menopause confirmed its benefits. More than 170 American women aged 45 to 60 with at least 4 symptoms per day (flushing or night sweats) received up to 20 weekly acupuncture sessions, spread over 6 months.
At the end of this period, their vasomotor symptoms were reduced by an average of 36.7%, while they had increased by 6% in the women who had received nothing. The improvement was significant after 3 sessions and the effect was maximum after 8 sessions on average.
Acupuncture rebalances the internal thermostat and regulates stress
In France too, acupuncture is used during menopause by some doctors and gynecologists. “We do not act by stimulating a specific point, but by working on the entire nervous system to regulate the patient’s energy”, specifies Dr Bernard-François Derreumaux, gynecologist-obstetrician-acupuncturist.
Indeed, menopause is a period of hormonal imbalance, with the decline and then the cessation of ovarian activity and estrogen production. In Chinese medicine, hot flashes are seen as a manifestation of excessive rise of yang-heat energy to the upper body, while theyin energy (that of cold) is insufficient because of this hormonal drop.
“Acupuncture regulates the balance between yin and yang quite well, and it is through this that we have an improvement on hot flashes”, says Dr. Gilles Andrès, acupuncturist doctor. By regulating our internal thermostat, it also decreases the night sweats.
We know that hot flashes are aggravated by stress and strong emotions, and themselves generate anxiety: a real vicious circle. “When we take this dimension into account to stimulate certain points and when we teach the patient to manage her stress and her emotions, the effect of the acupuncture sessions is more marked and more lasting”, observes Dr. Bernard-François Derreumaux, acupuncturist gynecologist.
Varying results depending on the woman
In the study, 59% of the treated women noted a marked improvement with acupuncture, while for 37%, the effect was negligible and hot flashes worsened in 4% of them. “Hot flashes can go away after a few sessions. But sometimes, only their intensity decreases or their frequency becomes less frequent, ”adds Dr. Andrès.
If they are still present but an improvement is felt after 3 sessions, Dr Derreumaux advises to continue with 1 to 2 sessions per month. Of course, there are also failures: no need to insist after 4 to 5 sessions if you do not feel any benefit.
The benefit of acupuncture on hot flashes is long-lasting
In this same American study, 6 months after stopping the sessions, the symptoms remained 30% less important than before the treatment. The acupuncturist doctor can also show, on a case-by-case basis, points to stimulate oneself with finger pressure to prevent the recurrence of symptoms.
On the other hand, against hot flashes from antihormone treatments for breast cancer, acupuncture has not been proven. The results are too contradictory and heterogeneous to conclude that acupuncture is effective in this specific case.
Where can I find an acupuncturist?
Legally, only a doctor has the right to perform acupuncture. Certain general practitioners and gynecologists associate it in particular with their practice. There is now a state diploma issued by four faculties in France (“acupuncture capacity”). Directory on the
Is an acupuncture session reimbursed?
As the prices are free, there can be a significant difference in price from one practitioner to another. Count at least 50/60 € per session and up to 100 €.
If acupuncture is performed by an approved doctor, the consultation is covered by Social Security at 70%, on the basis of a consultation with a general practitioner as part of the treatment path, i.e. € 15.10 per session. Some mutuals supplement this by offering a fixed price per session or per year.