What is Menopause ?
Menopause is a normal condition that all women experience as they age.
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, which are stored in the ovaries. The ovaries also make the hormones estrogen and progesterone which control menstruation and ovulation. Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg every month and menstruation stops.Some people call the years leading up to a woman’s last period menopause, but that time actually is the menopausal transition, or perimenopause.
During the time of the menopausal transition (perimenopause), your periods can stop for a while and then start again. Therefore, the only way to know if you have gone through menopause is if you have not had your period for one year. The average age of menopause is 51, but for some women it happens as early as 40 or as late as 55.After you go through menopause, you are considered in the post-menopausal stage of your life. Your female hormones won’t go up and down the way they used to with your periods. They will stay at very low levels.
Menopause affects every woman differently. Some women have no symptoms, but some women have changes in several areas of their lives.
Insomia & Night Sweats – You may find it hard to sleep through the night and may have night sweats, which are hot flashes that make you perspire while you sleep.
Changes in libido – Some women may be less interested in sex because sex can be more physically uncomfortable
Irregular Period – Your periods can come more often or less, last more days or fewer, and be lighter or heavier.
Mood Swings – depress, feel crabby, or have crying spells. If you had mood swings before your monthly periods or if you had depression after giving birth, you may have more mood issues around the time of menopause
Joint and muscle aches and pains – This is a condition in which your bones get thin and weak. It can lead to loss of height and broken bones.
Vaginal and urinary problems – Some women find it hard to hold their urine long enough to get to the bathroom (which is called urinary urge incontinence). Urine might also leak out when you sneeze, cough, or laugh
Other changes – forgetful, trouble focusing.
TCM and Menopause
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, menopausal symptoms can get complicated, but essentially it’s a deficiency in “Kidney Yin.” The terminology is often used when referring to the aging of both men and women. The “kidney organ system,” oversees our aging process and can easily become depleted or deficient.This kidney organ system in TCM controls both the kidney yin and yang energy and controls growth, development and aging.”Yang” is the energy of movement. It also represents daytime and heat. Yin is the energy of stillness, nighttime and coolness. Stress and aging cause damage to our yin, which can result in night sweats and insomnia as menopause approaches. Menopause can also exhibit as a deficiency of kidney yang energy. In this case, both yin and yang energy need balancing and nourishing.
Some Women worry about menopause, and it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. But there are many ways to treat symptoms and stay active and strong with TCM perspective.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture balances energies, adding energy where it is needed, and dissipating energy when it is too concentrated, moving energy that is stagnant. And it works directly on whatever organ you target. So acupuncture can work directly on the kidney and liver problems that are associated with menopausal symptoms.
Herbal Formula – Herbal formulas are more than the sum of the ingredients. Because of this, a particular combination of herbs causes a powerful effect on the body system, and practitioners modify the formulas to meet the patient’s needs, changing it as the body changes.
In other words, medicinal formulas are given on a highly individualized basis. Several different women experiencing hot flashes would perhaps each receive a different formula according to the individual’s entire pattern. A prescription does not fit a symptom, but is chosen for the individual and her pattern.
A TCM practitioner can help you devise a diet plan specialized to your needs, as well as provide safe, natural alternatives to Western hormone therapy for menopause care