As a traditional acupuncturist, I treat a whole number of conditions but particularly those related to the natural cycles of a womans life. The potential to bear life can be an important factor in a woman’s sense of purpose and worth, therefore menopause can be a turbulant time of change and reflection. Acupuncture is an excellant therapy to ease the journey.
Menopause represents the normal transition from a reproductive to a non-reproductive stage in a womans life. For most women, this happens over a number of years, usually between the ages of 48 to 55. Interestingly, this seems to have remained the same for centuries and is common across the globe.
The first signs of menopause start with various changes to the menstrual cycle. Disturbances in sleep, metabolism (weight gain/water retention), hot flashes, night sweats and emotional problems are common which are also exacerbated by stress. For some women, these symptoms can be become so extreme that their daily lives are severely disrupted.
Western medicine treatment involves the supplementation of Oestrogen in the form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Most gynaecologists however, would agree that strictly speaking it is only hot flashes and vaginal dryness that are a direct result of oestrogen deficiency, so HRT is not always the complete answer. Many women also express a desire to avoid medication and persue a natural route.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), menopause is seen as a natural decline in what is called Jing or Essence. This is a broad term which relates to deep ‘energies’ of the body. We talk in terms of Qi (“chee”) or energy, however Qi should be thought of more as a metaphor rather than an electrical current! It is the manipulation of qi that enables the practitioner to influence body systems.
TCM recognises the complex interaction during menopause, between hormone producing systems (not just of oestrogen) such as the ovaries, thyroid, adrenals etc which are responsible for the regulation of reproduction, growth, maturation, metabolism, maintanance of temperature and adaptation to external stressors. When this system is out of balance, so a combination of the above symptoms occur.
Acupuncture, as most people are aware, is the insertion of fine needles into specific locations (‘points’) of the body, (usually hands and lower legs). Despite what you might think, it is painless and deeply relaxing. The points used are chosen, after a full consultation, to treat your own individual set of symptoms.
Acupuncture prompts the regulation of body processes and hence is a gentle, balancing treatment with few side effects. (You may feel tired after the first couple of sessions). A course of treatment is required depending on severity of symptoms which usually begin to improve after the first one or two sessions. Whatever your individual set of symptoms during the menopause, acupuncture can soon have you feeling like (an even better version of) yourself again.