How Menopause Affect Fertility?
- Background: Menopause is the cessation of menstruation that usually occurs between the ages of 48-55. The menopause transition, and post-menopause itself, is a natural life change for every woman, not a disease state or a disorder. Perimenopause is the term describing the menopause transition years. In women who have a uterus, perimenopause describes the years both before and after the final period (although it is only possible to determine in retrospect which episode of flow was indeed the final period). During perimenopause, ovarian function slowly declines and there is a delayed response to gonadotropins. This delay results in a decrease in follicles that release estrogen to circulate in the body. The decrease in estrogen can lead to symptoms of hot flashes, irregular menstrual cycles, headaches, mood swings, insomnia, an inability to concentrate, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. During the perimenopause years, fertility diminishes, but is not considered to reach zero until the official date of menopause is determined retroactively 12 months after the last menstrual cycle.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Menopause?
- Chinese medicine views menopause as a natural physiological process that can be reflective of the state of the body’s internal climate and “essence” or prenatal constitution. The essence is intricately linked to reproduction, ovarian function and the state of the kidneys. Just as the follicular number of each woman is predetermined, so too is the quality of her essence. Excessive work, stress, and a poor diet are extraordinary contributors to poor ovarian function and a difficult menopausal transition.
- Acupuncture aims to encourage the body’s endocrine system to adjust more quickly to fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone, thereby restoring equilibrium in a more gentle way with fewer side effects. It encourages the restructure of hypothalamus hormonal triggers, thus helping the body to acclimate to the rapid temperature changes associated with vasodilation and perspiration (hot flashes). It also helps to release endorphins, hormones which can positively affect mood and sleep patterns.
- Chinese herbs nourish the kidney and essence while calming an unquiet mind. A well composed formula will also contain herbs to stimulate the central nervous system, aiding in improved concentration and decreased anxiety.
- Cupping Therapy can greatly reduce stress levels, relax the body, and allow a woman to re-establish a relationship with her changing body.
- Nutritional guidance emphasizes a balanced diet and an awareness of certain foods that can aggravate the symptoms of menopause. Moderating the use of caffeine, spicy food, red meat, dairy and alcohol can greatly diminish frustrating menopausal symptoms. Increasing calcium and vitamin D can help to strengthen bones, diminishing the risk of osteoporosis. Soy foods are natural sources of estrogen and can help treat hot flashes while protecting against heart disease.
How Western Medicine Treats Menopause?
Western treatments vary in intensity based on symptom severity and prevalence. Usually hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is prescribed which seeks to reintroduce estrogen into the body through synthetic or “natural” sources.