The word “menopause” is derived from the Greek words men and pausis, referring to the cessation of menstruation. The menopause can actually only be defined in retrospect, when there has been 12 months or more since the final menstrual period. The final menstrual period or menopause is preceded by a phase called the menopausal transition (lasting an average of 4 years), during which there are considerable fluctuations in hormonal levels and cycle lengths. The menopause essentially marks the end of reproductive function and signals that ovarian hormone production has dropped significantly and will remain very low or negligible. And, the final menstrual period is exactly that – the very last period! (Yay!)

More information on the menopause can be found at


O’Dowd M, Philipp E. The history of obstetrics and gynaecology. New York: Parthenon Publishing Group Ltd 1994.

Soules MR, Sherman S, Parrott E, Rebar R, Santoro N, Utian W, et al. Executive summary: Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW). Climacteric. 2001 2001;4(4):267-72.

Burger HG, Dudley EC, Robertson DM, Dennerstein L. Hormonal changes in the menopause transition.  Recent Progress in Hormone Research, Vol 57 2002:257-75.


That is what I am presumably spending the next six years finding out, though I don’t think I can really claim to answer the question after doing a mere PhD on the topic – but I will hopefully be adding to the “body of evidence”.

For the past eight months I’ve slaved away and written protocols, trained acupuncturists, designed surveys, and seen to every tiny detail that will make this come together. “This” being a large clinical trial, to the tune of 360 women, and requiring more than half a million dollars to run. (Before you get too heated up, very little of that loot is coming to me. In fact, as most academics know, it would be a very sad thing if I was doing this for the money).

The lovely people at the Human Research Ethics Committee (aka HREC – there’s a lot of acronyms in University bureaucracy) at the University of Melbourne have rubber-stamped my application to post on my blog about the trial. So here is the link to our official website.

This project really is “my baby”, being something I conceived in 2008 and gestated as a pilot study (my Masters project). I’m an acupuncturist, and we often see dramatic results in practice, but it can be difficult to know if it was due to our skill and expertise or if it was all a “placebo effect”. (Which some people argue is a large part of the acupuncture experience – and they are probably right).

Women in midlife are probably my largest clientele, and I would be overjoyed if we discovered acupuncture works for hot flushes, because it may just ease the burden that these wonderful women carry – they work, look after partners, look after ageing parents, stepchildren, children, sometimes grandchildren, and they just don’t need the bother of hot flushes.

If you know any women who are postmenopausal, suffering from hot flushes, and who have not had acupuncture in the past, and who live in Melbourne, please point them to my website.