How Chinese medicine views Perimenopause and Menopause
Menopause is something all women will face eventually and it’s great to see more being done to support them. The good news is it doesn’t have to be a nightmare or something we as women dread. Chinese medicine and natural therapies have long been used to make the whole experience much easier. Using a mind-body approach, acupuncture can alleviate both physical and emotional menopause symptoms, reducing the need for medication such as HRT (Hormone replacement therapy)
What is Perimenopause and Menopause?
Menopause is a natural part of aging that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, although it can affect some women as early as their 30s. As a woman’s oestrogen level declines and periods cease symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, insomnia, mood swings, vaginal dryness and weight gain can all appear. It’s something I see a lot of in my clinic.
Perimenopause is the name given to the phase leading up to menopause. It’s during this time when periods become irregular and symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, loss of libido, insomnia, mood swings, vaginal dryness and weight gain can all appear. For so many it can be a difficult time of transition, but it doesn’t have to be.
How does Chinese medicine view menopause?
As a woman ages the yin naturally declines too. This leads to an imbalance of our internal yin and yang circuit. Yin and yang are the two opposite forces of nature – day and night, warm and cold, active and rest. They are also the fundamental balance of the body, maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. Yin is female energy and yang is masculine. The demands and busyness of modern-day living means more and more women are depleting their yin reserves creating heat in the body and therefore those dreaded menopausal symptoms.
Each month the menstrual cycle is an opportunity to clear any excess heat in the body. When periods stop the body needs to find a new way to release this excess heat. The skin is our largest excretory organ and therefore becomes one of the easiest ways for the body to clear this excess and why so many menopausal symptoms affect skin and hair. The other options include the bowels, vaginal discharge and urination.
The kidneys are also responsible for the aging process, reproductive health and balancing yin and yang. They are also connected to our genes, the essence of our health that we inherit from our parents. Modern day stress makes the kidneys work harder and depending on our genetic imprint can put further strain on the body leading to early signs of aging.
How can you treat your peri-menopause and menopause symptoms?
One of the best ways is to pay attention to creating balance and ‘live in harmony with nature.’ This means tuning into the cycles of nature (the seasonal and lunar cycles) and taking steps to help nourish your yin, clear heat and restore that inner balance. Here are a few simple things you can do to help your symptoms at home:
Body brushing or tapping: Helps the free flow of blood and qi around the body, stimulating the fascia and muscles, nervous system and lymphatic system (supporting the clearing of excess heat).
Meditation, yoga and yoga nidra: Are great for restoring energy, calming the mind and helping focus when practiced regularly.
Eat foods that nourish yin: Leafy greens, apples, soy yoghurt, natural yoghurt, aduki beans, black beans, eggs, duck, chia seeds, flaxseeds, plenty of vegetables and wholegrains.
Reducing caffeine and alcohol (especially red wine): These generate more heat in the body as well as stimulating us to use more energy (depleting your yin).
Weight-bearing exercise: To support your joints and help maintain a healthy weight. Getting out into nature for 10 – 20 minutes can boost energy and lift your mood.
Make time for pleasure: Spend time doing the things that nourish you and make you feel good. This can be having a bath, lighting candles, meeting a friend, going for a treatment, spending time with loved ones, travelling, the list is endless.
Journalling: Perimenopause and menopause can be a time when strong emotions arise. Journalling is a great way to begin to process them and connect you to what truly matters.
Embrace this new phase of life,