Menarche and Menopause
Throughout a woman's life, there are key times when dramatic hormonal changes occur, in particular at menarche, after pregnancy and childbirth, and menopause. These times often mark major life transitions and are accompanied by significant changes in both the body and the mental/emotional framework. At the same time, they also offer a "window" through which profound change can be made and health influenced for years into the future.
While experiencing headaches or hot flashes, it can be hard to find "the goddess within". There is a metaphor in Oriental medicine philosophy that is sometimes used to describe the shift that occurs as women approach menopause. It has to do with the meridian or channel called the Chong mai, which strongly influences the qi and blood and flows from the heart to the uterus and reproductive system. During a woman's childbearing years, the action of this channel primarily moves downward to promote the movement of blood during menstruation, the nourishment of the baby during pregnancy, and movement of the baby through the birth canal during labor and delivery. At menopause with the cessation of the menses, the channel reverses its flow and the qi and blood gather to nourish the heart, the seat of wisdom, in order to foster cultivation of the inner self.
Nearly 50% of women in the U.S. will be in menopause by 2015. Because peri-menopause is often anticipated as a difficult time, even seen as a "disease" or disorder, women may begin taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) without carefully considering the risks inherent in long term hormonal medications. Oriental medicine offers an approach that helps smooth the hormonal transition, decreasing uncomfortable symptoms and helping the body-mind to regain balance.
Bone density loss is one of the most concerning issues of menopause, and though osteoporosis prevention is the best approach, many women show early thinning of their bones. Recent research shows that acupuncture can help increase bone mass in both amount and density. It also significantly increases blood circulation, which is a key factor in the health and longevity of bones.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can effectively address the following problems commonly encountered in menopause:
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Hot flashes
- Irregular menstruation
- Night sweats
- Osteopenia and osteoporosis
- Poor memory
- Urinary problems
- Vaginal dryness and infections