Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life. Traditional Chinese Medicine calls the various symptoms that some women experience when their cycle ends, simply, “menstrual cycle ending symptoms.” From the beginning to the end of this life cycle, if a woman is healthy and “in balance” her cycles will be regular and free of any symptoms. If a woman is in poor health and her internal energy is not balanced or is weak her body can express this through many types of menstrual symptoms such as, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular cycles, painful cycles, headaches, cramping, bloating and mood changes, just to name a few. It is believed that women who have these symptoms regularly will most likely experience menopausal symptoms which can include irregular cycles, hot flashes, night sweats, cold hands and feet, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood changes and a gain in abdominal fat.
One of the more menacing symptoms of menopause are hot flashes. It is interesting to note that 80% American women experience hot flashes as compared to only 10% of Asian women. Although these studies are currently inconclusive, this is attributed to differences in diet, lifestyle and cultural attitudes toward aging. Avoiding these hot flash triggers can help to reduce frequency and intensity:
- spicy foods
- tight clothing
- cigarette smoke
- warm rooms and temperatures
As we age our “true” energy or qi naturally declines. KD qi and LV energy are the most involved in this transition. The Kidney organ system in TCM oversees our aging process. The liver is responsible for the free coursing of blood and of emotion. In the treatment of menopause Chinese medicine is unique in that it individualizes according to the specific needs of each patient. This means that every patient with a certain symptom‒hot flashes for example‒will be treated differently depending upon the individual’s constitution. One patient may have hot flashes accompanied by weak vision, dizziness, night sweats and restless sleep. Another patient may have low back pain, memory problems and vaginal dryness along with the hot flashes. One of these women may notice that she feels melancholy and cries easily, whereas another may get angry and frustrated. Both of these patients will be treated with different acupuncture points, different nutritional advice, and different Chinese herbal therapies.
The phase prior to menopause is called peri-menopause (around menopause). It usually occurs sometime in one’s forties but can begin as early as the mid or late thirties. Symptoms at this stage will generally be mild and gradual. It is an excellent time to gently begin learning to re-balance the body and increase energy by practicing the following suggestions:
- make positive lifestyle changes that re-balance body from inside out
- reduce stress levels
- appropriate exercise and movement therapies
- diet and proper nutrition to support system
- acupuncture and herbal therapies to build and re-balance
- take time to relax and enjoy yourself
Whatever discomfort a woman is experiencing, Chinese medicine offers a unique perspective and individualized treatment that takes into account all symptoms of the body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Anita Alexandra, L.Ac., CH is an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist with 16+ years of experience. She practices at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture, 619 Main Street, Frisco. (970)668-3299.