Peri-menopause and Menopause
The average age of menopausal onset is 50 years old in the United
States, while the early changes associated with perimenopause can begin
in a woman's 30's to 40's (average age is 46 years old with 5 year
duration). Because this is a time characterized by fluctuations in
hormone levels and can span several years duration before the cessation
of menses, the entire process is known as the menopausal transition. A
woman is considered to be post-menopausal when she has been without
menstruation for at least 12 months.
Chinese medicine can be an indispensible ally for women as they navigate
through the changes related to the menopausal transition. As the body
prepares for the cessation of menses, hormones can fluctuate widely,
sometimes leaving the woman feeling like her body is no longer her own.
This can lead to mood swings, insomnia, and high stress. Likewise,
changing levels of reproductive hormones can create uncomfortable
symptoms such as joint pain, low libido, vaginal dryness, poor memory,
hot flashes and night sweats, to name a few. As the process continues
and estrogen declines, the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular
disease increases as well, altering a woman's long-term health screening
requirements from those of her reproductive years.
Recent research has shown that Chinese medicine can have lasting effects
on reducing the vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause (i.e. hot
flashes, irritability, etc.), and can help increase bone mass and
density associated with osteoporosis. It can also help to increase blood
circulation, which further promotes bone and cardiovascular health. In
fact, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are routinely used to help with all
of the following:
• Hair loss
• Heavy bleeding/Irregular bleeding
• Hot flashes/night sweats
• Irritability • Joint pain
• Low libido/arousal problems
• Poor memory/concentration
• Urinary tract infections
• Vaginal dryness/painful intercourse
• Weight gain
Hormone replacement therapy is commonly used to reduce these symptoms.
However, while HRT is a useful option for many women, there are inherent
risks associated with its use. For those women who wish to lessen those
risks, or those for whom HRT is not an option (such as in cases of
uterine or breast cancer), Chinese medicine is a valuable alternative.