What exactly is “menopause”?
A woman is considered to be in menopause when her menstrual cycle has stopped for 12 consecutive months and does not return. This typically happens around age 49 or 50 years, but can be shorter or longer depending upon a woman’s general and gynecological health history. The time leading up to this is known as “perimenopause” when you are in between and not quite there yet. Peri-menopause can last months or years and this is when some women begin to experience signs and symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF “MENOPAUSE”?
As hormones (particularly estrogen) begin to fluctuate in the body, HOT FLASHES may occur when you are awake and NIGHTSWEATS may happen as you sleep. You may also experience FATIGUE, CHANGES IN METABOLISM/WEIGHT GAIN, MOOD SWINGS, VAGINAL DRYNESS, DRY EYES, DRY SKIN, HEADACHES, and DECREASED LIBIDO.
How do we view “menopause” in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?
These signs and symptoms indicate imbalances deep within the body. We focus on correcting the imbalances and to restore balance overall. If left unchecked, the imbalances result in the signs and symptoms that are diagnosed as “Menopause” in Western medicine.
The hormone Estrogen is analogous to what acupuncturists call “Jing Qi”. It is the spark of life that runs through our body, very much like electricity moving through a power grid. Just as we need to plug a cell phone into a “charger” and an outlet to re-charge a battery, we likewise need to energize and re-charge the body’s Jing Qi so that we can move through our life activities with sufficient energy. If there are blockages or imbalances in the body it’s like someone has tied a knot in your power cord so the energy cannot flow freely. Or it could be an issue with not receiving or absorbing enough energy flow. With Jing Qi, the supply becomes depleted as we age. This is a natural process — the decline beginning between the ages of 35 and 60, though the drain may be more rapid for some people.
Menopause can also be connected to an imbalance of the Yin and Yang energies. Yin is seen as the cooling system of the body and is associated with female energy, while the Yang creates heat and is associated with male energy. As estrogen levels decline, this means the Yin is also declining and so the cooling system begins to malfunction. Heat symptoms will result, as in hot flashes, night sweats and dryness. When Yang is unbalanced, its levels can also decline effecting the metabolizing and warming functions in the body. This may lead to water retention, cold hands and feet, weight gain, edema, indigestion, hypertension or raised cholesterol levels.
How can acupuncture help?
After conducting a thorough evaluation and a complete health history, an acupuncturist will use the information gathered to create a unique treatment plan to address your individual needs and concerns. Once they have identified which organ system or line of energy has become unbalanced, this helps them to find the “root” of your symptoms to treat you more effectively.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are a safe and natural way to treat your menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, dietary changes and gentle movement may be offered to correct your imbalances. These natural therapies support the body by nourishing and re-balancing the Jing Qi and Yin Yang energies in the body.
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