Are you worried about seeing menopause early symptoms or perimenopause? Do you want to get on top of hormonal changes before they start to mess with your life? At our clinic, we see a lot of women going through perimenopause, plus hot flashes with anxiety, and who are wondering how Chinese medicine and acupuncture for menopause symptoms can help.
Firstly, let’s talk about the different stages of menopause, then we’ll discuss menopause treatment.
The definition of menopause: What are perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopausal syndrome?
Menopause refers to when a woman has had her last menstrual period. strangely, you can still have menopause with periods, so you get to enjoy the fun of hormonal fluctuations, and the period blues!
Postmenopausal is when a woman has not had a period for at least 12 consecutive months and continues for the rest of her life in this stage. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life, as her ovaries no longer produce any eggs.
Which age does menopause start?
Currently, the average age of menopause in Australia is 51 but it can happen a lot earlier than that. Perimenopause- early signs of menopause- is the transitional lead-up to menopause, it is when the hormones that stimulate the ovaries to release an egg each month, begin to decline.
When this happens ovulation and periods begin to become irregular and a range of other symptoms may appear, such as hot flashes or hot flushes.
A woman can be in perimenopause for up to 10 years, before being declared in menopause. Perimenopause can begin as early as a woman’s mid 30’s.
So, what causes a woman to go through menopause?
Most women will experience natural menopause in their late 40’s up to their mid 50’s. This is due to a natural aging process that has occurred due to a women’s ovaries no longer producing hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone.
Therefore, she stops ovulating and having a period, and is no longer fertile. Premature menopause can also be brought on earlier due to surgery or a medical condition and can happen as early as her 30’s. Due to the fluctuations of a woman’s hormones during this time, it can cause havoc on the body, and may begin experiencing a range of symptoms both physical and psychological.
What are some of the menopause early symptoms?
Extreme fluctuations in hormone levels greatly impact the body, and these begin to cause a range of different symptoms during perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause, which can impact a woman’s daily life. When menopause starts, the symptoms may be short-lived, while others have long-lasting effects.
Here is a list of symptoms that women may experience.
Physical symptoms of early menopause
- Hot flashes or hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
- Increased need to urinate
- Heart palpitations
- Joint pains
- Skin dryness
- Difficulty having sex
- Hot flashes only at night
- Low libido
- Low energy
Psychological symptoms of menopause
- Memory loss
- Irritability and mood swings
Even experiencing only, a handful of these symptoms can really impact a woman’s life, especially if it occurs daily. One of the biggest symptoms we see are hot flushes, this is when a woman’s body has an extreme rush of heat pulse through her body, causing her to sweat immediately and feel extremely hot.
This can happen throughout the day or night with no warning. It impacts her sleep as she is woken by this heat or can affect her while completing daily tasks at work or home and causes her some embarrassment.
What is the best menopause treatment?
This is such a tricky question, and one that we know many menopause specialists in Melbourne work hard to address.
Basically, because everyone reacts so differently to menopause treatment, it is usually a game of trial and error, to see what mixture of hormone therapy, and/ or natural treatment works best.
Many women seek acupuncture for menopause, and we know that we have several effective methods for addressing some of the early menopause symptoms. Acupuncture with menopause is great for reducing stress and anxiety with hot flashes, plus assisting you with the emotional and psychological pain that can come with this big life transition.
What is the Chinese medicine natural approach?
Menopause is seen as a normal stage in a woman’s life, where the Kidney qi (energy) begins to decline. Kidney qi is seen as the energy that was given to us at the time of (conception) as our constitutional energy.
We also increase our Kidney qi from post-natal energy such as the foods we eat, lifestyle, the clean air we breathe, and how you lived your life. How quickly you age and how you cope with life changes, is mainly dependent on your Kidney qi.
In Chinese medicine we want to conserve and strengthen your Kidney qi, this can be done by making changes to our diet, lifestyle, reducing stress, and getting better sleep, which is all believed to then help you transition through menopause as smooth as possible, by keeping the body in balance and harmony.
Medications that are given to menopausal women
It is common for GPs to prescribe women menopause medication to help alleviate some of their symptoms. However, there is some evidence that they may have some short- and long-term side effects.
- HRT, also known as Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT): This is one of the most common therapies that is prescribed to women. Hormones such as oestrogen and or progesterone are provided as either a pill, patch, gel, or vaginal cream or pessary to supplement the reduced hormones women are naturally losing. The hormones help to relieve symptoms such as hot flushes, and vaginal dryness. Testosterone can also be prescribed to assist with low libido and mood and assist with sleep disturbances.
- Antidepressants– SSRI classed depressants are prescribed to women to assist with decreasing menopausal hot flushes.
What can be done at home to assist through the transition of perimenopause and menopause?
When women come and see us for a health consultation about their perimenopausal, menopause, or postmenopausal symptoms, we spend time discussing what things they can do at home in between their weekly sessions to reach their optimal health goals.
Here are some helpful tips that you can begin doing at home to make a difference.
Reduce the amount of sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and coffee, while increasing the amount of water you drink per day, green leafy vegetables, and fruit will help with your energy levels, cool your body down. Also include foods with phytoestrogens such as tofu, whole grains, legumes, and whole bean soy as phytoestrogen may mimic the actions of oestrogen which is declining in menopausal women.
Reducing the amount of stress also is shown to help with rebalancing your hormones. Whether it is meditating, going for a walk or swim, practicing your breathwork, or talking to a friend are all ways to help reduce your daily stress levels.
Going through this transition is stressful and may women struggle to talk to anyone about what they are going through. If you are struggling with your emotions, write it down in a journal and get it all out every day. This will allow you an outlet to get your frustrations out in a productive way.
Menopause and exercise
Maintaining a healthy weight is important not just for menopause, but overall health and wellbeing. As a woman’s oestrogen levels drop the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease increases, and so does fat around the hips and waistline. Alternate between resistance training to build strong bones and muscles, cardio exercises to strengthen your heart, and calming exercises such as yoga, chi gong, and Pilates.
How can your Chinese medicine doctor help menopause?
If you are considering acupuncture for menopausal symptoms, here are some great effects Chinese medicine can have on your symptoms:
- Reduces stress on the body and hormonal system which will help rebalance your hormones
- Helps to alleviate fatigue and exhaustion
- Reduce pain that is associated with increased aches and pain in joints that are experienced by women going through menopause
- Provide sound, relevant and achievable advice around a menopause diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
- Help you stay calm, focused, and relaxed mentally through the ups and downs, and provide an empathic ear when things get tough!
We work closely with women as a health coach where we spend time analyzing all aspects of your health, hormones, and look at a variety of options that are available to assist you better while you go through this transition.
We also assess the underlying cause of imbalances in the body and give you a timeline for how many months improvements may take.
It is important to have a doctor or acupuncturist guiding you through your menopause journey, as sometimes it can be a difficult and confusing road.
Menopause centers / groups we recommend in Australia
Menopause society Australia
A great online resource and support network is the menopause society Australia. The Menopause society of Australia has a wealth of information including the best menopause treatment in Australia, why menopause causes night sweats, and how menopause and sex go together!
Check out the menopause society website here.
Jean Hailes Clinic Melbourne
Our acupuncturists work alongside some of the fantastic menopause doctors and support staff at the Jean Hailes menopause clinic in Melbourne.
Whilst these menopause specialists at the Jean Hailes foundation provide you with tailored HRT and hormonal support, our Chinese medicine doctors can help support your transition with a range of natural, holistic appriaches.
Find out more about their menopause clinic in Melbourne Jean Hailes Menopause support here.
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We provide acupuncture in pregnancy Melbourne to the North Western suburbs of Melbourne and are close to Highpoint. Qi Medicine acupuncture is minutes away from Ascot Vale, Essendon, Avondale Heights, Maribyrnong, and Brunswick West. We also service many clients with acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Travancore, Flemington, Aberfeldie, Maidstone, and we are just 10 km from Melbourne city.