Although a natural stage in a woman’s life, reaching forties, fifties and onwards, mainstream medicine considers menopause a disease and therefore requiring some sort of treatment. It is considered that due to the fact that the ovaries stop producing estrogen, women at this stage will be therefore deficient. What is important to acknowledge and reassuring for women going through menopause, is that a body who is no longer preparing to conceive, does not need the same level of estrogen.
What actually happens during menopause
By the time a woman reaches menopause there are around 10, 000 primordial follicles left. However, as the follicle activity in the ovaries decreases and then ceases, there will be a lack of estrogen and therefore the cessation of menses. There will also be a decrease of progesterone, which is secreted by the corpus luteum after ovulation has occurred. If there is no ovulation, there is no progesterone.
Therefore the feedback mechanism to the brain (pituitary gland) when these levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease, is shut down and the pituitary gland continues to produce high levels of FSH and LH. These changes will give rise to various emotional disturbances such as mood swings, loss of concentration, vulnerability to the external events. Within two years of menopause, the level of estrogen will drop to about 50% and progesterone to around 70% of their original levels.
Consequently our metabolism slows down dramatically, therefore the weight gain, but also this hormonal change may cause the muscles to drop and the skin to wrinkle.
This imbalance between the estrogen and the progesterone can also trigger the abnormal dilation and constriction of the blood vessels, leading to hot flushes and headaches.
Current research suggests that insomnia caused by hot flushes and sweating is a major factor causing depression during menopause.
Some research shows that it is not the physical factor of the decrease in estrogen which is associated with menopausal symptoms, but rather the psychological impact of the events, adjusting to all changes around this age that have the greatest significance on how a woman goes through menopause.
TCM addresses any imbalance in the body holistically, therefore its efficacy in dealing also with menopause!
How Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs) can help
Chinese Medicine is a gentle and yet a very effective and safe method of treating menopausal symptoms. The emphasis of the treatment is not to increase the level of a certain hormone, but rather to restore balance whilst the body is going through these natural changes, to help smooth the way in times of adjustment. Whether it is during your menstrual cycle, conception, pregnancy or menopause, Chinese medicine helps optimise a woman’s endocrine system, regulates the nervous system and stimulates the release of endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones, and calming the mind.
We are each born with a certain level of estrogen inherited from our parents genes, nevertheless a woman’s lifestyle and dietary habits from childhood to the cessation of menses can play an important foundation for how she goes through menopause. The sooner we look to balance the body and the mind, the easier or free of symptoms your journey during menopause will be.