Menopause in our society is not usually thought of as a positive phase in life. But it can be and it should be!
Chinese Medicine’s explanation of menopause which is described as the Second Spring, shows us that menopause should be an empowering phase in a woman’s life.
With menopause a shift occurs from creating energy for another through fertility and reproduction to conserving and nourishing the self-creating a “Second Spring”
According to Chinese Medicine women’s bodies follow seven-year cycles. From birth, a young girl matures until blood and qi begin to overflow which brings on menarche (the onset of menstruation) at around 2 x 7 years of age.
Then at around 7 x 7 years of age, the woman’s body needs to conserve qi and blood. To do so menstruation ceases and conception is no longer possible.
The energy that was needed in the uterus to hold a pregnancy moves up to the heart where our shen or spirit resides providing a deeper wisdom of herself and the world.
When menopause occurs and the menses cease, the nourishment from Blood and Qi which once went to the Uterus is instead directed to the heart which houses the Shen (mind) providing deeper wisdom and insight.
Because of this in Chinese culture, it is not a time to be feared but is looked upon as a profound and wonderful time in which a woman can use her newfound energy that goes to her heart to pass on wisdom to younger generations.
Often at this time, women are inspired with newfound passions often leading to them giving back in some way to society.
A Smooth Transition:
A smooth progression into menopause is a sign of health dictated by the wisdom of the body.
Many of the discomforts that women experience in perimenopause are an expression of imbalances that have already existed in the body for years.
In most Asian countries, many women do not suffer with the transition, and this is likely due to diet and lifestyle and respecting and valuing the progression of life.
Chinese Medicine celebrates the natural stages of our lives, including menopause, and offers techniques for a smooth transition.
In Chinese Medicine how a Woman experiences Menopause is determined mostly by the quality of her qi, yin, blood and kidney energy. Five key factors over a lifetime typically determine this.
Hereditary: Pre-Heaven qi is what we inherit from our parents and contains our greatest potential, as well as inherited weaknesses.
How your Mother or Grandmother experienced menopause can give you an idea of how your menstruation and menopause might present.
Overwork: Working long hours without adequate rest, physically and/or mentally can deplete the body of essential qi, blood and nourishment.
Stress: Worry, anxiety, and fear can weaken the Kidneys and can lead to Yin deficiency, especially when these emotions occur against a background of overwork.
Lots of children: In Chinese medicine, lots of pregnancies close together weaken the Kidneys and can deplete blood and yin especially if one does not take care to rest postpartum.
Diet: A diet lacking in richly nourishing and nutritious food will eventually lead to deficiency.
Chinese Medicine Imbalances:
Not every woman experiencing perimenopause or menopausal symptoms are treated the same in Chinese Medicine. As always we treat the individual and the presenting imbalance.
There are five key imbalances that can be distinguished and guide our treatment principles, .multiple imbalances can exist at the same time
Kidney-Yin deficiency: dizziness, night sweating, hot flashes, sore back, dry mouth, dry hair, dry skin, itching, and constipation.
Kidney-Yang deficiency: hot flashes but cold hands and feet, night-sweating in the early morning, pale complexion, depression, feels cold, backache, and swelling of the ankles
Kidney and Liver-Yin deficiency with Liver-Yang rising: The Liver is connected with the eyes in CM. This pattern typically includes irritability, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, dry eyes, dry skin, hot flashes, aches in joints, night sweating, sore back, and headaches.
Kidneys and Heart not harmonized: The heart is connected to the mind. Symptoms include hot flashes, palpitations, insomnia, night sweats, blurred vision, dizziness, anxiety, restlessness, the feeling of heat in the evening, dry mouth and throat, poor memory, dry stools.
Accumulation of phlegm and stagnation of Qi- obesity: Symptoms include oppression of the chest, a feeling of fullness of the stomach, swelling of breasts, irritability, belching, nausea, no appetite, moodiness, and depression.
Research: Acupuncture for Hot Flashes:
In a meta-analysis of 869 participants, they found that acupuncture significantly reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes. They also found that acupuncture effectiveness lasted for more than 3 months.