For many women, the term “menopause” brings up a lot of negative ideas: hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, mood changes… The idea of no longer having a menstrual period sounds great, yet the idea of our hormones declining and no longer having the ability to bear children may be depressing for some. Most women associate menopause with getting old and have a really hard time wrapping their head around the idea. In this country, women often try desperately to fight the signs of aging (and this creates a lot of stress and anxiety), but did you know in other countries women actually embrace menopause and go through this transition without any symptoms? In many cultures, entering into menopause means the woman is in the phase of becoming a "wise woman" who is looked up to in society. It is the time in a woman's life where she has gained much knowledge and life experience that can be passed on to others. This is the phase of life where women no longer need to be sacrifice themselves for others, rather it is a time to enjoy life with a new perspective gained by all the wisdom gained over the years.
How do I know I am in menopause?
Menopause is simply the cessation of your period, which normally occurs between the ages of 40 to 51. It is defined as not having a menstrual period for a minimum of one year or longer. In fact, menopause is not actually a disease or syndrome, and in a healthy individual, should happen naturally without any symptoms. I know this may seem shocking to those who have heard the horror stories of other women experiencing extreme menopausal symptoms or to those who have experienced these symptoms themselves, but it is actually true!
What is the purpose of menopause?
The fascinating concept I have learned in my study of Chinese medicine is the mechanism behind why menopause really occurs. Prior to menopause, blood from the heart travels downwards and enters into the uterus each month to either nourish a growing fetus or it is lost through menstruation. If we are lacking blood (i.e. anemic) or there is poor circulation or a blockage, this affects many aspects of menstruation and fertility. In contrast, when we are in menopause, the uterus no longer demands this blood from the heart; rather, the blood stays in the heart to protect it and nourish it so we can live a longer and happier life. It is the body’s self-preservation mechanism. Interesting, right?
Why do menopausal symptoms occur?
While it is wonderful to hear that we should theoretically ease into menopause, many women don’t; so where do these symptoms come from? Menopausal symptoms may occur due to emotions (i.e. anger, frustration, resentment) which affects the body physically, stress, and poor diet. These symptoms include: hot flashes, night sweats, chills, insomnia, poor memory, anxiety, depression, mood swings, vaginal dryness, low libido, joint/muscle pain, loss of bone mass, thinning hair, headaches, sluggish metabolism, and weight gain. In addition, long-term stress and overworking for many years affect adrenal and thyroid function, creating many of these symptoms.
How can Chinese medicine treat menopausal symptoms?
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help to ease your body through your transition into menopause as well as alleviate any menopausal symptoms you are currently experiencing. Acupuncture regulates your hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls hormone production, body temperature, sleep, energy, and hunger - all of which can be negatively affected during menopause. Acupuncture also balances the pituitary gland, the "master gland" of your endocrine system which secretes hormones into your blood to regulate your thyroid, adrenals and reproductive organs. This prevents the development of adrenal fatigue and/or hypothyroidism, which are commonly seen in patients experiencing menopausal symptoms.
Chinese herbal medicine originated as the "emperor's medicine", used primarily by the emperors in China to increase longevity and enhance fertility. In fact, Chinese herbal medicine is truly the original anti-aging medicine! Chinese herbs are the perfect solution for menopausal symptoms. We create customized formulas to treat your specific symptoms, as well as target the root cause (i.e. stress, weak thyroid, emotions, adrenal fatigue).
How functional medicine can help you during menopause
In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, we also recommend functional medicine lab work for patients experiencing menopausal symptoms. We assess thyroid and adrenal function, which are all too often overlooked as a root cause, and are the major reason patients experience the long list of symptoms mentioned earlier. By optimizing the function of these important glands using natural supplements, we can both prevent and stop menopausal symptoms.
Are you looking to avoid the symptoms of menopause or are you currently experiencing them? We would love to help you! Call 321-972-2940 to set up your consultation and find out how we can make your transition into menopause an easy one!