Hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia. These are just a few of the symptoms that a woman going through menopause experiences and which can make her life miserable. While the process is a natural part of aging, it can have a seriously adverse effect on your lifestyle and mental health.
Since the condition can make you lose focus, it can have a serious effect on your income generating and relationship building capabilities, both which can add stress to your life. The study also showed that depression and anxiety were the two main mental health concerns menopausal women face.
Menopausal transition can be quite subtle so most women don’t even know they are going through it. While it is a natural part of aging, it can have devastating effects if the symptoms are not managed.
What is Menopause?
A woman’s ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, the female sex hormones, during the first and last menstrual cycle. These hormones work together to prepare a woman’s body for pregnancy. Besides this, these hormones are maintain skin health and mucous membrane integrity in the human body. The linked study showed that cervicovaginal fluid from post-menopausal and women who experienced abnormal vaginal flora was less viscous and was also higher in pH compared to premenopausal women and women with normal vaginal flora.
The hormonal levels deplete with time particularly during perimenopause i.e. the years leading up to menopause. During this time, egg production in the ovaries starts to reduce and the woman stops having her period when the last egg is released. If the woman does not have her period for 12 consecutive months, menopause is the usual diagnosis.
Some women may get menopause at a young age or as a side effect of a treatment. This includes radiation or removal of both ovaries as a treatment for ovarian cancer. This type of menopause is called artificial or induced menopause and its symptoms are quite similar to that of natural menopause.
The start of menopause can be quite subtle for most women, but some women can experience noticeable and uncomfortable physical symptoms. The symptoms are usually signs that that the ovaries are producing less and less estrogen. Some of the common ones include the following:
- Hot flashes.
- Breast tenderness.
- Periods that may be lighter or heavier than usual.
- Skipping or irregular periods.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Aches and pains.
- Hair thinning or hair loss.
- Weight gain.
- Racing heartbeat.
Out of all of these symptoms, hot flashes are the bane of menopausal women. During a hot flash, you may start to sweat profusely, get red in the face and feel hot and cold all over. These symptoms can alleviate with time, but some women can suffer from it for the rest of their lives.
Acupuncture Benefits for Menopause
Acupuncture has been proven to be beneficial for menopausal women as is apparent from this study. 209 women between the ages of 45 and 60 experiencing vasomotor symptoms (VMS) were recruited for the study and received over 20 acupuncture treatments over the first six months (for the acupuncture group) and for the six months after that (for the control group).
The aim of the trial was to determine the nature and effect of acupuncture compared to no acupuncture. Following the completion of a 2-week diary, women who reported 4 VMS per day (which was the criteria of the study) underwent acupuncture by a specialist and control group participants were told they would be treated in the next six months.
Participants who were assigned to acupuncture received over 20 treatments by one of four acupuncturists (who had 8 to 33 years of experience in the practice) herbal medicines were not used.
Each woman was asked to record their VMS frequency and its severity during the treatment phase and were also given tally counters that could help them keep track of the number of hot flashes throughout their day. At the end of the study, researchers discovered that women in the acupuncture group experienced a 36.7% VMS frequency decline at six months and at 12 months, the reduction from the baseline from the same group was 29.5%.
This meant that the VMS decline was mostly maintained due to acupuncture treatments. The participants in the acupuncture group also reported fewer sleep problems and at 12 months also showed that the effects of acupuncture treatments were maintained for all of the outcomes.
In comparison, women in the control group did not receive any acupuncture needling treatments in the first six months of participation. They experienced a 6% increase in VMS frequency compared to the significant decline of said symptoms in the group that received acupuncture treatments.
At the end of the study, researchers concluded that a steady course of acupuncture treatments can reduce VMS significantly and maintain frequencies compared to no acupuncture treatments.
Whether you are going through perimenopause, menopause or post menopause, you are in significant pain even if it is not physical. At the American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) Main Clinic, we offer acupuncture treatments that can help you gain control of your symptoms. You can call 713-780-9786 for an appointment. We also offer treatments at the Houston Methodist Hospital locations at 713-441-5980. Get in touch with us for a consultation today!
Besides menopause, some of the other common conditions we are proficient at treating include back pain, neck pain, headaches, tennis elbow, sports injuries, arthritis pain and more. We are committed in providing a quality of care that is par excellence and also embrace the tenets of Western science to promote the integration of TCM practices into mainstream biomedicine.