This month’s blog is about the symptoms of the menopause and how Traditional Chinese Medicine can help.
First of all let’s talk a bit about what the menopause actually is and in western medicine what is done to help symptoms.
The menopause is when a women’s periods cease and the body can no longer reproduce. The average age is between 45 and 55 years (NHS). However there are women who experience this in their 20’s or 30’s.
Common Symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced sex drive
- Low mood or anxiety
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) such as cystitis
- Reduced muscle mass
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
- Vaginal dryness (NHS)
The symptoms you see above are caused by a decline of Oestrogen in the body which is from follicle activity decreasing. HRT replaces this hormone to help but there can be some side effects from this therapy like bloating, leg cramp, headaches, nausea and more. (NHS)
Chinese Medicine Theory:
Men and women have different cycles in their life. A women’s cycle is determined every 7 years. Therefore the menarche (when the period starts) should commence at 14 years and the Menopause at 49 years.
As we know the menopause is due to a decline of follicle activity but a foetus in the womb will have approx. 6 000 000 primordial follicles, at birth 600 000, 300 000 at menarche and 10 000 at menopause (Maciocia page 741). So you can see that it is not a sudden event but something that happens gradually.
Symptoms that women may experience are the same as Western but are treated much differently.
It is essential to understand that diagnosis must take place first to establish what treatment is needed. In TCM there are certain factors that contribute to symptoms, the below comes in account when putting a treatment plan together and here are a few examples of what’s looked at.
or otherwise known as Jing is one of the three treasures that is vital for the body, the other two are QI and Mind.
In TCM Essence comes in three forms:
- Pre essence is already with you and comes from your parents, which determines our constitution, strength and vitality. “Pre heaven essence matures into kidney essence at puberty when it generates menstrual blood and ova in women and sperm in men” (Maciocia p 45). There is a thought that what you are born with, once it has gone that’s it.
- Post Essence derives from food and fluid from the stomach and spleen once you are born.
- Kidney Essence comes from both pre and post essence and is stored in the kidneys. Essence circulates around the body within the eight extra ordinary vessels.
In TCM the kidneys are responsible for many things here are a few examples:
- Store essence; govern birth, growth, reproduction and development
- Produce Marrow, fill up the brain and control the bones
- Govern water
- Open in the Ears
- Manifest in the hair (Maciocia 1988)
As you can see above the kidneys have a lot in common with the symptoms that were shown earlier in the text. Govern Water: cystitis, control the bones: joint pain etc. The symptoms of the menopause are determined by the” pre-excising condition of the kidneys and therefore on the woman’s diet and lifestyle throughout her lifetime” (Maciocia p741)
To Diagnose we can look at the two common types below and also few of their symptoms:
Kid yin deficiency: dizziness, tinnitus, night sweats
Kid yang deficiency: backache, oedema of ankles, night sweating in the early morning
In acupuncture we work the deficiencies that you see above. There are certain points on the body that will allow us to do so. Needles are inserted and placed for 20 mins. By working on these your body is therefore re balancing and either nourishing or tonifying the kidney yin or yang or sometimes both. There can be other organs involved and different diagnosis apart from the above and this can only be decided with a consultation to understand what the best treatment plan is for you.
Remember what I said before, it is great to get the body ready pre menopause but if you are already there now and experiencing problems then why not come and give acupuncture a go.
Sessions are recommended once or twice a week for 6 weeks to see results. Please take advantage of this code OCT MEN to get 25 % off your consultation which also includes a treatment too.
Fig 1, Can Stock Photos (2017) Menopause (photograph). Available at: https://www.canstockphoto.com/ (Accessed 4th October 2017)
NHS, 2015. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Menopause/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 3rd October 2017
Maciocia, G.(1998). Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingston. P741-762
Maciocia, G.(2008). The practise of Chinese Medicine. 2nd edn. UK: Elsevier. p1091-1125