I was asked three times this week by my patients if I work with women going through menopause. Almost everyone knows someone between the ages of 42-55 who is going through “the change”. Since I have extensive post graduate training in Women’s Health, and I do a lot of fertility work, it makes sense that I would also help women through menopause….right?
For most women, menopause is a shift that happens over a period of years. It is a naturally occurring transition that every woman goes through. During this time her hormone levels undergo severe fluctuations. Progesterone and estrogen decline as ovarian function decreases, but luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) increase as the pituitary attempts to stimulate the ovaries and induce ovulation.
Sound complicated? It is!
Basically, during this transition women have too much of some hormones and not enough of others. As their bodies try to adapt to these dramatic hormonal shifts, women can experience symptoms such as: night sweats, hot flashes, irritability, insomnia, irregular menses with profuse bleeding and more!
So how can a natural process be so uncomfortable? Some women, about 25% have no menopausal symptoms. One day their menses simply ceases. Other women enter menopause with yin and yang imbalances due to prolonged overexertion (such as working full time, raising children, attaining higher education and being the emotional support system for the whole family, whew!). This makes them more likely to experience symptoms during menopause.
What can a woman do? First of all, she can accept this shift as a gift, even though it may not always feel like a gift. Women part with precious energy every month through bleeding as a consequence of being fertile. It is part of our physical makeup to give of ourselves to nurture others. As a woman moves into a new phase in life, she no longer has to part with this energy. She can keep this resource for herself. Post menopause can be a time for women to focus fully on themselves, their needs and wants.
Oriental medical theory asserts that during menopause women are prone to yin and yang imbalances. I truly enjoy supporting women through this transition with acupuncture, herbal therapy and diet and lifestyle counseling. Through supporting the body to attain a new balance between yin and yang, these modalities can reduce unpleasant menopausal symptoms such as: hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, profuse menstrual bleeding, etc.
The result is a stronger, healthier woman who can enter gracefully into the next phase of her life.