Transitioning into post menstrual years is a natural process, so why can it be so uncomfortable for so many women? Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and irritability to name a few symptoms can range from mild to severe. These symptoms can be experienced for months or continue for years. At Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston, we work to reduce these symptoms naturally.
What Happens During Menopause?
Natural menopause is the permanent ending of menstruation that is not brought on by surgery or medical treatment. The process is gradual and occurs in three stages; peri-menopause, menopause, and post menopause. Peri-menopause begins several years before menopause, the ovaries are gradually producing less estrogen until they stop releasing eggs.
Menopause is defined when it has been 1 year since a woman had her last menstrual period. The ovaries at this point have stopped releasing eggs. The years after menopause are considered post menopause and may include typical menopause symptoms but at less intensity. Menopause typically occurs after the age of 40 but may begin early due to result of surgery, damage to the ovaries or chemotherapy. When it occurs before age 40 it is considered premature menopause.
How Does Western Medicine Treat Menopause Symptoms?
Some doctors recommend taking synthetic hormones during both peri-menopause and/or menopause. A birth control pill may be recommended to both prevent pregnancy and regulate heavy or irregular menstrual cycles. During menopause when symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats present, a doctor may prescribe synthetic estrogen or progesterone. This hormone replacement therapy or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) may help menopause symptoms but is linked to increases in breast and ovarian cancers. The FDA recommends limiting the amount of MHT to a low dose and to take for a short period of time.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Menopause Symptoms?
The Taoist principles of yin and yang are applied to describe homeostasis in the body in Chinese medicine. The characteristics of yin are cooling, quiet, solitude and night time. As we age, and in particular as women reach menopause, the amount of yin energy begins to decline and symptoms associated with depletion of yin begin to show including hot flashes, night sweats, irritability and insomnia. This depletion of yin, although physiologically normal, occurs over years depending upon a woman’s gynecological, obstetric, dietary and psychological history.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs work to reestablish balance in the body by supplementing the woman’s yin energy. Often women report decreased intensity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats and feel over all more calm when using acupuncture during the hormone’s transitional time.
Modern science recognizes acupuncture’s effects at successfully treating these symptoms and are beginning to recommend it over medications
We often incorporate Chinese herbs for menopause symptoms. Women have reported reduction in night sweats and hot flashes within one week of beginning herbs. The providers at IAOM are licensed experts at recommending herbal supplements. We are trained at knowing when and how to use herbs and avoiding any contraindications with other medications.