As women, we will have approximately 500 periods during our lifetime. Commonly a woman’s period starts between the ages of ten and eighteen. From then on, we continue to menstruate until we are hit with menopause sometime between the ages of 45-55.
Menopause represents a hormonal change in the female physiological process, a change in life. Certain levels of hormones such as oestrogen are not released as much as it was prior which causes the process of ovulation to cease.
Just as our periods are a normal cyclical process, so too is menopause. However, it can induce varied unpleasant symptoms which often have a detrimental impact on the quality of our lives.
Common symptoms of menopause include:
• hot flushes
• night sweats
• aches and pains
• crawling or itching sensations under the skin
• lack of self-esteem
• reduced sex drive (libido)
• difficulty sleeping – wakefulness or waking hot and sweaty
• urinary frequency
• vaginal dryness
• discomfort with sexual intercourse.
A Chinese Medicine Perspective
Menopause is first mentioned in the Huang Di Nei Jing, The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine around 240 BCE. In this text, it discusses the life cycles of men and women. Women grow and flow in 7 year cycles, and men in 8 year cycles. Below is what the text says in chapter 1:
Huang Di asked, “When one grows old, one cannot bear children. Is this due to heredity or to the loss of one’s procreative energy?”
Qi Bo answered, “In general, the reproductive physiology of woman is such that at seven years of age her Kidney energy becomes full, her permanent teeth come in, and her hair grows long. At 14 years the Tian Kui, or fertility essence, matures, the Ren and Chong channels responsible for conception open, menstruation begins, and conception is possible. At 21 years the Kidney energy is strong and healthy, the wisdom teeth appear, and the body is vital and flourishing. At 28 years the bones and tendons are well developed and the hair and secondary sex characteristics are complete. This is the height of female development. At 35 years the Yang Ming/Stomach and Large Intestine channels that govern the major facial muscles begin to deplete, the muscles begin to atrophy, facial wrinkles appear, and the hair begins to thin. At 42 all three yang channels—Tai Yang, Shao Yang, and Yang Ming— are exhausted, the entire face is wrinkled, and the hair begins to turn grey. At 49 years the Ren and Chong channels are completely empty, and the Tian Kui has dried up. Hence, the flow of the menses ceases and the woman is no longer able to conceive.
Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to any menopausal symptoms. We consider any symptoms to be a sign of a deeper imbalance within the body. It is best not to ignore these symptoms as being normal. Stress, diet and lifestyle can make the symptoms worse. When we enter the phase of menopause with high levels of stress combined with alcohol intake, coffee drinking and spicy food, our body’s thermostat may not be able to regulate the building of internal heat. The obvious symptoms here are; hot flushes, night sweats, dryness and skin irritations, along with fatigue, anxiety, headaches or lack of concentration.
It’s important at this stage of our lives, that we slow down, whereas most of us are very busy with work, family and social lives. Some of the symptoms are exacerbated by the stress this puts on our body. Rest and quiet time are important.
But, if we struggle to slow down or the symptoms are bothering you, Chinese medicine can help through supplements, diet and lifestyle advice. It’s a good time to take control of your health. BOOK HERE for a free 15 minute health consultation where we can discuss how Chinese medicine can assist you with your health goals.
I love this quote from Lisa Hey Davis, author of Getting Over Your Ovaries: How to Make ‘The Change of Life’ Your B!tch.
“When I was suddenly thrust into what everyone calls menopause (Orchids) earlier than my body planned, I decided someone needed to take charge on so many levels. It was time to not only change the vernacular, but to speak up and say “Hey! This isn’t an old lady’s disease! We aren’t old! We are strong and dammit, we are beautiful and sexy too!”
Book here for a free 15 minute health consultation where we can discuss how you can stay strong, beautiful and sexy!