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Relaxation Therapy Reduces Hot Flashes

Women trained in relaxation therapy reduced their menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, in half, researchers in Sweden said.

Elizabeth Nedstrand of Linkoping University and colleagues at Linkoping University Hospital said women who saw a doctor for moderate to severe menopause symptoms occurring at least 50 times a week — but who were otherwise completely healthy — were randomly assigned to two groups: one had 10 sessions of group therapy and the other received no treatment.

As part of her doctoral thesis, Nedstrand conducted the therapy, which is based on learning the body’s muscle groups and getting the body to relax with the help of breathing techniques.

“The participants were given exercises to practice daily at home,” Nedstrand said in a statement. “The goal was for them to learn to use the method on their own and to be able to manage their own symptoms.”

During the study period and for three months thereafter, the women kept a diary of their hot flashes. They also had to fill out a “quality of life” survey on three occasions and submit a saliva sample for analysis of the stress hormone cortisol.

The study, published in the journal Menopause, found women in the treatment group reduced the number of hot flashes per day from an average of 9.1 to 4.4; and it remained at that number for three months after the last therapy session. The numbers in the control group also decreased, but from 9.7 to 7.8, the study said.

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