Managing Menopause With Chinese Medicine

Managing Menopause With Chinese Medicine

Menopause is a time in woman’s life that can become highly stressful.

Hot flashes, night sweats emotional changes and more cause physical and emotional discomfort.

What is Menopause?

Firstly, menopause is a time of physical and emotional change that results from a natural decline in ovarian function.

Secondly, this is different from premature menopause where ovarian decline is brought on before age 40. Smoking, living in high altitude and a lack of dietary nourishment may cause this.

Finally, this is different again from artificial menopause. Medical interventions such as chemotherapy and procedures that impair ovarian blood supply are causes. 

What Happens?

As women age the ovaries response to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) decreases.

This causes a shorter follicular phase and irregular and short menstrual cycles, less ovulations and a drop in progesterone. 

Women in their late 40’s may notice menstrual flow and cycle length start to vary.

Hot flashes and sweating affect up to 85% of women before menses stops. These hot flashes can last one year to more than five years in half of all women.

Hot flashes can last thirty seconds to five minutes, sometimes followed by chills.

Other symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Poor ability to focus & memory loss
  • Depression, fatigue & irritability
  • Vaginal dryness

Finally, a decrease in size of the uterus, ovaries and other regions can occur. The risk of osteoporosis increases, the most rapid loss during the first two years after oestrogen starts to decrease. 

Western Medical View

Firstly, diagnosis is clinical but the cause of hot flushes isn’t fully understood.

Menopause is likely if menses is less frequent or has been absent for six months.

Women under 50 with no period are tested to exclude pregnancy and ovarian tumours.

Women in their 50’s with history of irregular menses followed by a stop of menses and no other abnormal signs often don’t require further testing. 

Treatment includes:

  • Firstly, avoid triggers of stress
  • Secondly, exercise
  • Relaxation (slow breaths may help hot flashes)
  • SSRI’s (e.g.Fluoxetine) or SNRI’s
  • Soy protein may provide benefit

Finally, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can work for some women in the short-term.

The increase risk of ovarian cancer, fibrocystic breasts, emotional changes and other side effects may occur without proper management of HRT.

Chinese Medical View

Firstly, menopause is a time where women become ‘yin deficient’, meaning that the cooling and moistening aspects of their physiology is declining.

As a result, women get hot, irritated, anxious and can’t sleep well.

Feelings of depression, feeling ‘worn out’, dizzy, heart palpitations, poor appetite and diarrhoea are common.

3 Causes in Chinese medicine

  1. A constitutional decline (“Kidney Yin insufficiency”). A women present with dizziness, ringing in the ears, sweating, hot flashes with heat in the chest, palms and soles of the feet particularly at night.

Backache, dry skin, itching, thirst, and constipation are often seen. Treatment focuses on clearing “deficient heat” and nourishing the cooling aspect of the Kidney using acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine.

  1. Functional decline (“Kidney Yang deficiency”) presents as dull complexion, aversion to cold, cold limbs, weak and cold back and knees.

Poor appetite, abdominal distension, diarrhoea, oedema, frequent urination at night and incontinence is seen.

Finally, treatment focuses on supporting the warming aspect of the kidney and spleen with acupuncture and herbal medicine.

  1. Combined constitutional (Kidney Yin) and functional decline (Kidney Yang deficiency)

This may include a history of feeling cold with recent onset of hot flashes, low libido, fatigue, and low back pain. Herbal medicine may be used.

New Research

One recent study on post-menopausal women showed serum estradiol level elevations were significantly larger in studies that selected SP6 acupuncture point.

To conclude, SP6 can be a preferred acupuncture point to stimulate the secretion of serum estradiol levels (2) to reduce menopause symptoms.

6 Lifestyle Steps to Manage Menopause

  • Firstly, avoid hot and spicy foods & drinks
  • Secondly, avoid alcohol and coffee
  • Third, avoid ice cold food/drinks
  • Avoid Cigarette Smoking
  • Include resistance exercise
  • Finally, apply for a free assessment here

David L. Edwards is an author, Chinese medicine physician and licensed acupuncturist. He is the author of The Body Fat Formula, and The Pocketbook guide to Chinese medicine and painless cures (available on amazon). David is the creator of Barefoot Health and Wellness health programs.

Apply for an assessment here , or book an assessment by calling 9462-0585 

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  1. Porter, Kaplan (editors). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 19th ed. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J. pg. 2516, 2518, 2520, 2011. 
  1. Acupuncture to Reduce Sleep Disturbances in Perimenopausal and Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Chiu HY1, Hsieh YJ, Tsai PS.
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