Acupuncture and Menopause
All too soon, women find themselves pre or peri-menopausal and fall victim to the belief that they are stuck with the hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue and anxiety for potentially the next decade. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As a holistic healing practitioner, I can’t stop the menopause from coming, but I can certainly help you manage the impact that it has on your wellbeing.
Remember my last blog; we talked about how holistic therapies work, based on the concept that our body-mind connection is a big part of how we heal well and live well. With menopause comes a lot of mental load, fuelled by a lack of understanding, decades of misinformation and stigma, some fear and importantly, hormonal imbalance. For many women, hormonal imbalance can mean low mood and emotional overwhelm. Topped with the idea that women are not in control of their bodies and what is happening to them. Add into the mix, the additional cortisol (stress hormone) flooding your body because of the mental load of menopause and lack of sleep, and the body becomes hugely out of balance.
Physiologically, when the ovaries begin to slow down, the level of oestrogen in the body starts to dwindle until no more eggs are released and the menstrual cycle ends. The changing levels of oestrogen, progesterone and sometimes testosterone, create an imbalance in the body’s functioning and the effects can vary from woman to woman. The orthodox Western medicine can offer hormone replacement therapy to retune the hormones and reduce the side effects of menopause. This can be really helpful for some women. Not many people know about this yet but bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is gaining more popularity. I read the book “It’s not my head, it’s my hormones. How to tame your hormones and feel like yourself again” by Marion Gluck and it was great to see that there is a more efficient and less toxic alternative. Marion also recommends in her book certain foods for specific hormonal imbalances. Worth the read. The issue I find is that it seems to be accessible only to a rather wealthy portion of the population as the initial session is priced over £300, plus the tests, another couple of hundred pounds. Then, obviously, a follow up session to discuss the results, another couple hundred, and then the actual treatment with BIHRT, another couple of hundred. Then a follow up a few months later, another couple of hundred pounds. So costly and elitist! Hopefully, as BIHRT becomes more popular, we can see our GP’s sending referrals for this kind of treatment at a much more affordable rate.
As an acupuncturist, I can take a more holistic approach to supporting you and your body through the inevitable changes that come, and the symptoms you experience as a result.
For example, hot flashes and night sweats in Chinese medicine are mainly a result of the decline of oestrogen which is a Yin substance, hence it’s cooling properties. Yin and Yang anchor each other, meaning that if the Yin is deficient, it fails to anchor the Yang which in turn rushes upwards causing hot flashes, headaches, neck and shoulder tension, rushing thoughts… Temperature and fertility are both linked to kidney energy in Chinese medicine and as acupuncturists we can encourage the body to re-establish homeostasis by using both body and/or ear points which is what the NADA protocol helps with to do!
In my Hot Flash Clinic in York, I use the NADA Protocol which involves the gentle placement of five small sterilised, very thin, disposable needles into specific sites on each ear; the kidney site being one of them. The recipients sit quietly for between 40–45 minutes. This therapy can help reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, aid relaxation, and reduce anxiety, tension and insomnia.
Acupuncture stimulates the body’s innate ability to rebalance and heal, and supports physical and emotional wellbeing. I can also offer a wider strategy to optimise your health and wellness throughout your journey with menopause and give you back some of the power that you may feel is lacking when this big, life-changing process starts to happen without your permission! You have the power of choice; you can choose how to experience your menopause.
To end this article on a more positive note, some of my clients have reported feeling better in their menopausal stage. This may happen to ladies who had overactive oestrogen which would cause testosterone to be subdued. Yin over Yang type of imbalance as opposed to the above Yang over Yin imbalance. These ladies report feeling more empowered (one of them is getting divorced! She no longer feels she needs to stay in an unhappy relationship, she has found a new sense of self that no longer fits the dysfunctional relationship, as in she knows she deserves better), they have taken up cooking classes and other activities which they did not have the energy to do before menopause with subdued testosterone levels. So, it is not all doom and gloom. Some women don’t feel it at all, some others love it, some others aren’t so lucky. What I would suggest is asking your GP to run a full hormonal profile and depending on the results, there are things you can do for yourself. From incorporating or reducing certain foods in your diet (a nutritionist and/or health coach would come handy here), to acupuncture, to orthodox HRT or the newest BIHRT and much more. Knowledge is power!
If you would like to discuss how acupuncture can help, do give me a shout! I’ll be happy to chat. I run the community clinic on Mondays at Reduced rates. Visit the York Hot Flash Clinic for more info.