Hot flashes (also known as hot flushes) are a common menopausal complaint and have a negative impact on the quality of life of many women.
While HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is said to be very effective at relieving menopausal symptoms – and hot flashes and night sweats in particular – the treatment is known to have a number of potential side effects, ranging from headaches and vaginal bleeding to an increased risk of blood clots and breast cancer in some women.1 For this reason, it is understood that many in the postmenopausal period search for natural alternatives to help them manage their symptoms.2
A study recently published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice2 aimed to identify the effects of foot reflexology when applied to menopausal women on vasomotor complaints and quality of life.
The study involved 120 women attending a menopause polyclinic in Turkey, in the menopause, premenopause or postmenopause phase, and experiencing untreated hot flashes at least three times a day. They were randomly assigned to either the experimental or control group (58 and 62 women, respectively). Those in the experimental group received two 25-minute sessions of the Ingham method of reflexology, once a week for six weeks. Those in the control group received two 25-minute foot massages, once a week for six weeks.
Data was collected through an identification and assessment form, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL) and hot flash diaries.
The results showed that hot flashes, sweats and night sweats decreased in both groups, however the women receiving reflexology demonstrated a statistically significant larger decrease compared to those in the foot massage group. Reflexology also significantly improved problems in the sexual domain (for example, alterations in sexual desire and sex avoidance).
- NHS Choices. (2015) Treating symptoms of the menopause. See: nhs.uk/Conditions/Menopause/Pages/Treatment.aspx (accessed 15 December 2016).
- Gozuyesil E, Baser M. (2016) The effect of foot reflexology applied to women aged between 40 and 60 on vasometer complaints and quality of life. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 24: 78-85.