Wellington Acupuncture for Menopause
Acupuncture is a safe, natural and popular treatment for peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture is not associated with the same side effects as Hormonal Replacement Therapy.
Acupuncture for Menopause and Peri-Menopausal Symptoms
Acupuncture is a safe, natural and popular treatment for peri-menopausal and menopausal symptoms including night sweats, general sweating, hot flushes, mood swings, anxiety and depression, stress, sleep disturbances, hair or skin problems, physical symptoms and more. Additionally, acupuncture is not associated with the same side effects as Hormonal Replacement Therapy.
What is Menopause and Peri-Menopause?
Menopause is when a woman experiences complete and permanent ending of menstruation and it usually involves 12 months without menstruation before being diagnosed. ‘Natural’ menopause commonly occurs between age 48 and 55, while some women experience premature or late menopause. Peri-menopause (or Climacteric Syndrome) is the phase in which a woman transitions from a reproductive to non-reproductive stage. During this time some women experience little or no symptoms while others suffer from menopausal symptoms. The most distressing symptoms commonly include mood changes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, hot flushes and changes in temperature and sweating that may include excessive night sweats. For some women these symptoms can be very extreme, interfering with daily life, sometimes being considered embarrassing, distressing, and exhausting. The amount of time symptoms are experienced varies greatly across women.
The transition and changes experienced during this time result largely from changes in the ovary itself, in particular ovarian follicles which are depleting by this time. (Ovarian follicles deplete progressively starting from even before a woman is born).
Menopause according to Chinese Medicine
There is a long history of treating women’s health problems, including symptoms of menopausal transition with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Menopause is a physiological transition, not a disease. (1,5) Loss of reproductive ability is related to progressive reduction of ovarian follicles (1). These begin reducing before birth indicating menopause is a gradual life process (1) The concept of Kidney-Jing-Essence corresponds to this. Jing declines naturally with age and controls growth, development and reproduction (1,5).
Chinese Medicine is holistic and refers to interrelationships, patterns and the concepts of Yin and Yang. Yin is cooling, moistening, still and calm while Yang is warming, active and moving. When Yin and Yang are in balance there is harmony. In simple terms, many menopausal symptoms are due to what is referred to as an imbalance of ‘Kidney-Yin’ (cold) and ‘Kidney-Yang’ (hot) and resulting temperature regulation issues when they are imbalanced. ‘Kidney-Yin’ has some correlations to estrogen and ‘Kidney-Yang’ to progesterone. During transition into menopause estrogen levels decline, and commonly Kidney-Yin does also, commonly resulting in dryness, insomnia, heat and night-sweating.
However, menopause is not always as simple as this and women often report a number of symptoms that are related to other patterns in Chinese Medicine. On examination the tongue may show other factors that need to be taken into account. Some women may feel cold in association with sweating instead of hot, sweating may happen in the early morning or day as opposed to late at night and the woman may have cold hands and feet or ankle edema which does not occur with Kidney-Yin Depletion. Due to this, your acupuncturist will always take a detailed health history and ask about symptoms specific to you in order to identify the individual disharmony occurring for you, and treat you accordingly.
Lifestyle and diet factors prior and during peri-menopause can contribute to the development of problematic menopausal symptoms by resulting in a deficiency in the ‘Kidney’ system (different to your physical Kidneys) prior to peri-menopause. Examples include overwork with inadequate rest, poor diet and lifestyle habits, stress, constitutional deficiency, long term illness, stimulant intake, many childbirths (including miscarriages) close together and excessive sex (1).
Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer women in terms of diet and lifestyle advise to help self-manage some of their symptoms in combination with acupuncture treatment.
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Standard Treatment for Menopausal Symptoms
It’s important to remember menopause is not a disease, but a natural transition. Medical intervention is only really appropriate if a woman finds symptoms distressing or uncomfortable.
Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT)
During perimenopause and menopause certain hormones naturally decline. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a common standard treatment that aims to reduce symptoms related to hormonal changes during this transition such as irritability, depression, mood swings and hot flashes. Estrogen is an important hormone involved. A synthetic version of estrogen is commonly prescribed, often in combination with other hormones that also begin to reduce at this time.
Unfortunately, despite being somewhat effective for some women, Hormone Replacement Therapy causes a number of side effects and is not suitable to some women. Physicians and patients question the safety of this therapy.
Known side effects include bloating, nausea, mood changes, swollen tender breasts, headaches and vaginal bleeding. Hormone replacement therapy additionally has been shown to increase the risk of life-threatening blood clots and particular cancers such as ovarian and breast cancer. These are serious and long-term effects that should be considered prior to using this treatment option. Many women do not wish to use Hormone Replacement Therapy due to the risks and negative side effects involved and seek alternative, non-pharmacologic treatment such as acupuncture.
Other medical treatment for menopausal symptoms are only considered marginally effective.
Can Acupuncture Treatment Help Menopausal Symptoms?
Research has shown that acupuncture causes significant reduction of many menopausal symptoms. Although not fully understood, one of the mechanisms involved is the impact acupuncture has on hormonal imbalances involved. Acupuncture is considered a safe, natural treatment option when done by a well-trained professional and does not involve the same negative side effects as that of hormone replacement therapy.
What Happens in an Acupuncture Treatment?
Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine that is becoming increasingly more researched. It has a holistic approach, meaning it sees the individual person as a whole, and therefore sees the mind and body as being closely interconnected. Different acupuncturists will have different styles and approaches to treatment. Often, the treatment will involve taking your health history and discussing what you’re concerned about. You might discuss how long you’ve experienced symptoms, what the symptoms are for you, what makes it better or worse, if you have support and ways to cope with the emotional component and what symptoms you would like to improve through treatment. Acupuncturists should be sensitive to your needs so if discussing this is difficult, it’s ideal they don’t push you and take a gentle approach. The acupuncturist will then examine your tongue’s shape, color, and coating, feel your pulse, and possibly perform some additional physical examinations depending on your individual health needs. Using these unique assessment tools, the acupuncturist will be able to recommend a proper treatment plan to address your particular condition.
To begin the acupuncture treatment, you lay comfortably on a treatment table while precise acu-points are stimulated on various areas of your body. Most people feel no or minimal discomfort as the fine, pre-sterilised needles are gently placed. The needles are usually retained between five and 30 minutes and the entire session will take up to 1 hour. Your acupuncturist may recommend and include other treatment techniques such as cupping, moxibustion and auriculotherapy (using ear seeds or tiny needles on points on the ear) with your permission if they are appropriate for your condition.
How Do I Choose the Right Acupuncturist?
At Tao Clinic, we hand pick the best and highly trained acupuncturists in the region. Our acupuncturists are recognized ACC treatment providers and hold a minimum four year Bachelor of Health Science that consists of a combination of both traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Biomedical training. To guarantee the standard of training and competency, we advise that you always verify that your acupuncturist is registered with one of the two regulation body for acupuncturist in New Zealand:
M: 027 439 6287