Your experience of menopause will be different from everyone else that you know. That’s because you have different genes, physical makeup, emotional nature, and overall health. Menopause is not a disease or hormone deficiency, but a natural transition in your life. It’s the result of a rebalancing of your female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which leads to the end of your menstrual cycles and of your reproductive years.
This natural change in hormone production comes with aging. Your ovaries become smaller and produce less estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is the hormone that tells your uterus (womb) to build up its lining in preparation for the implantation of an egg, should an egg be fertilized. Progesterone is the hormone that tells your uterine lining not to shed when it is abundant and to shed when it declines, resulting in your menstrual period.
Your menstrual flow stops when there are no longer enough hormones to build up the lining of your uterus each month. In addition, your follicles, which contain your egg cells, have been decreasing in number from hundreds of thousands when you were born to a few hundred as you approach menopause. Now, as your follicles and egg cells diminish your estrogen and progesterone decline, and you eventually become infertile.
Natural menopause is considered to have occurred after 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period. Menopause generally occurs between the ages of 48 to 55, with an overall average in North America of 51. This natural transition to your non-reproductive years is gradual and is called perimenopause. However, menopause can occur prematurely, through surgery that removes your ovaries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and medications that suppress your hormones.
While menopause is a natural transition, it is a unique experience for every woman. It can lead to changes and symptoms that may be confusing and stressful. It’s interesting that menopause, which is perceived to be a negative transition for many women doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma or effects for women in China. This difference translates into a stark contrast in symptoms, with up to 75% of women in North America reporting severe symptoms associated with menopause, compared to only about 10% for women in Asia.
A combination of diet, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine accounts for much of the difference between Asian women and North American women as they go through menopause. However, these treatments are available to all, and are clinically effective in helping you as you move through this time in your life.
At BodaHealth, we are able to offer you a number of ways to minimize the discomfort associated with menopause. Some of the symptoms that our practitioners can help with include:
- Irregular periods
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Vaginal dryness and thinning
- Changes in your skin
- Decreased sex drive
- Emotional changes
- Risk of osteoporosis (thinning bones)
At BodaHealth, we have been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture for years, successfully treating women’s health through all life stages. The results of these treatments are both effective and lasting. Many women who we have treated report a reduction or elimination of hot flashes and restored libido. Our practitioners are committed to working with you through this transition in several ways.
During your initial appointment, we will gather information about any symptoms you may be experiencing, as well as your health history. This may include information about your emotional health, family history, environmental considerations, and lifestyle. If needed, our naturopathic doctors can order blood, urine, or saliva testing to determine not only your menopause status, but also if there are any hormonal imbalances contributing to your symptoms.
Based on your intake information and testing, your practitioner will develop a treatment strategy that is specific to your needs. They will discuss your diagnosis and their plan for your overall care.
Acupuncture will likely be a part of your plan, and is a good choice in treating a number of menopause-related symptoms. Insomnia, hot flashes and night sweats, stress and emotional issues, and fatigue may all be effectively addressed with acupuncture.
Herbs and supplements may also be used in your treatment. Our Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are able to choose an herbal formula, tailored to your specific imbalance. Over time, as your needs change, they can adjust your formula to accommodate those changes.
Vitamins or other nutrients that can benefit your health and ease your transition through menopause may be prescribed by our naturopathic doctors. In addition, they are able to prescribe herbs from medicinal plants that contain phytoestrogens, or plants that are known to reduce hot flashes.
Our naturopathic doctors are able to do lab testing and write medical prescriptions, and in some instances they may recommend and prescribe hormone supplementation. This may be done when appropriate and based on the severity of your symptoms or risk factors for certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, or a family history of dementia. Our hormone prescriptions may include bio-identical hormones, customized compounds, or conventional hormone replacement therapy.
Diet and nutrition is also an important component to a healthy transition to menopause. Our practitioners are trained to help you make dietary choices and changes that can maximize your health. For example, we may recommend adding seaweed to your diet to help with estrogen metabolism, or foods that contain phytoestrogens, which can help alleviate a number of adverse menopausal symptoms.
Your treatment plan may also incorporate body mind medicine in the form of stress reduction, massage, meditation, or therapeutic exercise.
At BodaHealth, we believe that the transition from perimenopause through menopause should not be confusing, frustrating or uncomfortable. We’re here to help minimize your symptoms with healthy and natural techniques, and to turn this time into an opportunity to embrace this transition as a new phase of your life.