The path through menopause is an extraordinary journey, one that marks a significant transition in a woman’s life. It’s a journey filled with changes, both physical and emotional, that can be as unique as the individual experiencing them.
It can also be a time that brings disruption and misery to our lives. It may involve one or more of a range of symptoms, which we can experience to varying degrees and levels of distress.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has long been a popular choice to manage the symptoms of menopause. However, an increasing number of women are seeking alternatives that align with their preferences and beliefs.
Acupuncture can offer a gentler, more personalised path to relief and well-being. It provides a more tailored, harmonious approach to your menopause.
Menopause is a natural biological phenomenon. It is a sign that a woman’s childbearing years are coming to an end and the body is preparing for a new stage of life. Menopause is characterised by the absence of a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. It typically occurs around the age of 51 in developed countries.
A range of factors influence the overall impact of menopause. These include age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, emotional and health history and whether it occurs naturally.
Symptoms can include night sweats and hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety and depression. You might also experience fatigue, headaches, aches and pains, palpitations and genital and urinary problems. Oestrogen has a role to play in pretty much all our bodily systems so when it naturally starts to decline, we will feel different.
It is estimated that up to 60% of women’s lives are sufficiently disrupted to warrant visiting the GP. The standard treatment is a prescription of HRT (hormone replacement therapy). For some, this brings immediate relief with no or little side-effects and the added benefit of preventing the development of osteoporosis.
For others the side-effects of HRT outweigh the benefits. These can include weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, cramps, indigestion, fluid retention, headaches, mood swings, depression acne and backache.
A woman may be reluctant to take HRT because of fears around risks of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Others feel uncomfortable about taking medication for such a long period of time. Some are not able to take it because of a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure. Some have been on HRT for many years but feel unsure about stopping because of the return of the original symptoms.
Various studies show that acupuncture may offer relief from some of the most common menopausal symptoms. Evidence Based Acupuncture has an excellent summary of these.
Traditionally acupuncturists explain Chinese medicine in relation to the flow of qi in the body and the balancing of Yin and Yang. This is a framework of health which you might map to the Western concept of homeostasis.
As we approach menopause, the balance of yin and yang in our body is disrupted.
As yin decreases the body heats up – causing hot flushes, night sweats, dizziness, menstrual irregularities and anxiety. Yin and Yang are interdependent so yang deficiency can then arise causing chills, fatigue and depression. As time passes the vitality of other meridians is disrupted – our liver qi may stagnate causing mood swings and depression, our heart qi may become hyperactive causing insomnia and palpitations.
The benefit of acupuncture is that it treats the person rather than the disease. This means there is no ‘one size fits all’ treatment – the patient presents with a set of symptoms that are unique to them and I tailor treatment to that individual.
It also has a demonstrated record of safety when received from a fully trained practitioner and there is a great deal of evidence that shows it effectively treats menopausal symptoms.
If you’re struggling with menopausal symptoms and need support why not book in for a free 30-minute telephone consultation with me to see how acupuncture can help.