Acupuncture and Menopause
The Impact of Menopause
Menopause is a deeply personal event in a woman’s life. For some, the impact on their lives can be extremely hard to cope with, devastating even. Yet menopause is a normal process every woman will go through. Most women experience it around 50, but for some it occurs naturally earlier.
A quarter of women have no symptoms. However, many have symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems, palpitations, worry about being unable to remember things. Many experience anxiety, depression, and feeling miserable, being unable get out from beneath a black cloud, as well as insomnia. Some may also experience dry hair and skin, and drying up of body fluids.
For some, these menopausal symptoms are brought on by cancer treatment (such as Tamoxifen, which causes an ‘artificial’ menopause) or after a hysterectomy.
Varying symptoms and side effects
Most women will experience some symptoms around the menopause, but the severity and duration of these will vary from woman to woman. A survey carried out by the ITV's Tonight programme found that one in four women going through "the change" experienced distressing side-effects. A quarter said that they had considered leaving their jobs because of the menopause.
Menopausal symptoms vary tremendously between women and can be non-existent, last for a few years or last for decades. They occur as a result of low levels of oestrogen in your body. It can be very common to have menopausal symptoms but still have periods. If you are still having periods, then you are peri-menopausal. However, when describing symptoms, the term menopausal is usually used.
Symptoms of the menopause often have a very negative effect on your partner, family and work colleagues. They often come and go so you may have some months where you feel completely normal and then other times when you experience unpleasant symptoms.
Managing the change
Approximately 60% of women don’t seek medical help, preferring complementary or alternative medicine.
They may also seek to manage the change by dealing with the feelings of shame that often accompany menopause, talking about their experience of menopause with friends and family, in a support group or with a counsellor.
Other coping strategies may include dietary changes, eating well, exercising more, and focussing on looking after themselves.
Chinese medicine sees menopause as a normal, natural life process. The distressing symptoms that may accompany menopause are seen as evidence of an imbalance in your qi (vital energy) or Blood.
This imbalance may have been developing for many years. Only at menopause does it become apparent. Menopause is often a stressful time, and because it involves major changes in your identity and your role in life, these stresses can further disturb or deplete your qi and/or Blood and may worsen your symptoms.
Don’t let the symptoms overwhelm you before you seek help or reassurance.
Conditions for which acupuncture may be helpful
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and irritability
Tiredness and poor sleep
Lack of libido
Hair and skin changes
Traditional acupuncture and the menopause