MENOPAUSE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HORRIBLE
October 23rd, 2019
Mention the word “menopause” to any woman of a certain age and you’ll most likely be met with groans and sighs and harrowing stories of embarrassing day sweats, unbearable night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, forgetfulness, fatigue, insomnia, decreased libido and weight gain. Calling it a “transition” or a “change of life” is putting it very, VERY nicely!
What is Menopause?
Menopause is a period of time (on average 4-8 years) that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life. Ovulation no longer occurs and the production of oestrogen and progesterone ceases. This usually occurs between the ages of 45-55, and when the woman has had no period for 12 consecutive months she is considered to be post-menopausal. The surge and decline of hormones as they adjust and settle into their new rhythm cause the above-mentioned symptoms, and their severity can vary from woman to woman. A lucky 20% have minimal to no symptoms, 60% of women report symptoms being mild while 20% report being severely affected by them.
How is it Treated?
The treatment/management of symptoms consist of a lot of self management strategies such as dressing lightly, having cold drinks, using a facial water spray, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods etc. Beyond that there is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in the form of tablets or patches, however this carries with it some serious potential side effects such as thromboembolism (blood clots that dislodge and cause a blockage elsewhere in the body) and breast cancer. You will need to weigh up the risks versus benefits with your doctor and decide what is best for you, but if you want to try a natural approach there are other options.
What Else is There?
Do not despair – there are other ways you can make this “transition” smoother. Chinese Medicine is based on the theory that all things in our body, in the environment and in life in general need to be in balance – yin/yang, hot/cold, joy/sadness etc. When something becomes out of balance, the body will show symptoms of this in the form of pain or illness. Menopause, although a naturally occurring stage of life, is seen as an imbalance of energies. Our yin (cooling) energy becomes too weak and therefore allows the yang (heating) energy to flare upwards, causing hot flushes and excessive sweating. Our Kidney (reproductive) energy is changing and therefore can cause a drop in libido. The Liver and Spleen energies are thrown into turmoil and result in irritability, forgetfulness, weight gain, and disruptions to the Heart energy can cause insomnia or depression.
Acupuncture is a fantastic way to calm all of this down and decrease the symptoms of menopause. The needles stimulate the body to redirect its energies to where they should be and brings them back into balance. I have treated so many menopausal women over my career and I can tell you that every one of them has felt at least some form of relief from Acupuncture treatment, if not a drastic reduction in symptoms. This is reinforced by a 2015 study by Chiu et al. which found that “Acupuncture improves hot flash frequency and severity, menopause-related symptoms and quality of life” (1).
Get Back Your Quality of Life
It’s a really rewarding feeling to help someone get back their quality of life. It can be difficult to understand just how hard menopause is unless you’re experiencing it, but to be able to go through your daily activities without having to worry about whether there’s going to be air-conditioning where you’re going, or to have the energy to get through your work day, or to not feel so grumpy and just enjoy life, is an amazing thing. I love helping women through this sometimes challenging phase and I hope that if you’re struggling with it, you’ll reach out and get in contact with me, because it doesn’t have to be a horrible time in your life.
(1) Chiu HY, Pan CH, Shyu YK, Han BC, Tsai PS. Effects of Acupuncture on menopause-related symptoms and quality of life in women in natural menopause: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause. 2015 Feb;22(2)234-244.