Acupuncture for symptoms in menopause transition: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Oct;219(4):373.e1-373.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2018.08.019. Epub 2018 Aug 17.


Background: Acupuncture has been used for women during menopause transition, but evidence is limited.

Objective: We sought to evaluate the efficacy of electroacupuncture on relieving symptoms of women during menopause transition.

Study design: We conducted a prospective, multicenter, randomized, participant-blinded trial in China mainland. Subjects were randomized to receive 24 treatment sessions of electroacupuncture at traditional acupoints or sham electroacupuncture at nonacupoints over 8 weeks with 24 weeks' follow-up. Primary outcome was the change from baseline in the total score of Menopause Rating Scale at week 8. Secondary outcomes included the changes from baseline in the average 24-hour hot flash score, the Menopause Rating Scale subscale scores, the total score of Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire and its subscales, and serum female hormones. All analyses were performed with a 2-sided P value of < .05 considered significant based on the intention-to-treat principle.

Results: A total of 360 women (180 in each group) with menopause-related symptoms during menopause transition were enrolled from June 9, 2013, through Dec 28, 2015. At week 8, the reduction from baseline in the Menopause Rating Scale total score was 6.3 (95% confidence interval, 5.0-7.7) in the electroacupuncture group and 4.5 (95% confidence interval, 3.2-5.8) in the sham electroacupuncture group with a between-group difference of 1.8 (95% confidence interval, 0.9-2.8; P = .0002), less than the minimal clinically important difference of 5 points' reduction. For secondary outcomes, the between-group differences for the decrease in the mean 24-hour hot flash score were significant at weeks 8, 20, and 32, but all were less than the minimal clinically important difference in previous reports. Interestingly, the between-group differences for the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire total score reduction were 5.7 at week 8, 7.1 at week 20, and 8.4 at week 32, greater than the minimal clinically important difference of 4 points. Changes from baseline in follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and estradiol levels at weeks 8 and 20 (P > .05 for all), with the exception of follicle-stimulating hormone/luteinizing hormone ratios (P = .0024 at week 8 and .0499 at week 20), did not differ between groups.

Conclusion: Among women during menopause transition, 8 weeks' electroacupuncture treatment did not seem to relieve menopausal symptoms, even though it appeared to improve their quality of life. Generalizability of the trial results may be limited by mild baseline menopausal symptoms in the included participants.

Keywords: Menopause Rating Scale; Menopause-Specific Quality of Life; acupuncture; hot flash; menopause transition.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • China
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / psychology
  • Hot Flashes / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome