What is Menopause?
Menopause (‘menses pauses’) is the stage of a woman’s life when she ceases to ovulate. A woman leaves one stage of life and begins what can become the greatest era of her life. The menopausal stage can last for just a few months or can happen over a period of several years. During this time, a woman’s body must adapt to declining levels of estrogen. For some women, their symptoms are a bit more severe than the norm – these women experience hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, vaginal dryness, and weight gain. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a very popular Western medical approach for the treatment of menopause. HRT is usually implemented at the onset of menopausal symptoms. HRT can be successful to alleviate the symptoms of menopause but can also increase the risk of certain cancers (breast, ovarian, and uterine).
The combined modalities of Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can balance the body’s energetics and expediently give relief to menopausal symptoms without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize menopause as a disease. Rather, it considers the symptoms of menopause to be imbalances within the body. According to Chinese medical theory, during this time a woman’s body naturally begins to send nourishment to the body in a much wiser fashion: no longer to the uterus for childbearing, but to specific internal organs for the purpose of preserving longevity. Women are so smart!
Ideally, it is best to consider treatment prior to entering this phase of life so the transition can be smooth and without ill effects, but it is never too late to partner with your acupuncturist to plan a strategy. The combined modalities of acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies, gentle breathing, and physical exercises (yoga, tai chi), and meditation may be employed to effectively treat a woman in this stage of life to alleviate and ultimately eliminate the symptoms she is experiencing. Some dietary and lifestyle modifications may be recommended. As each female is very different, a woman’s treatment plan will be individually designed.
Clinical Trials of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Menopause
Clinical studies have suggested that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective treatments for the various symptoms of menopause. The World Health Organization has approved acupuncture as a treatment modality for symptoms associated with menopause.
A Few Helpful Hints for a Smooth Ride through Menopause
Here are a few lifestyle habits that you can start implementing even before you arrive at this stage of life:
- If you’ve been carrying around that extra 10 pounds, now is the time to lose weight. No time like the present!
- Introduce and/or increase into your daily diet more fruits and veggies, and cut out the sugar. Sugar will destabilize your moods.
- Dairy, red meats, alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine can contribute to more hot flashes than you’d like to have… so be judicious with these food choices.
- If you smoke… QUIT! Smoking may increase hot flashes and bring on earlier menopause.
- Reduce unnecessary stress in your life and cultivate relaxation. Take the dog for more walks, meditate, and treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, or a nice warm bubble bath.
- Get together with your girlfriends. There’s nothing like sharing a few great laughs.
- Remember that you’re not alone… many women can relate to this time of life.
So relax…it’s just a normal process. You’re not getting older; think of yourself as a fabulous bottle of red wine – as it ages and matures, it becomes bolder, better, and valued in high esteem!