Managing Menopause With TCM For Both Males And Females
Image by @thwhoai via Unsplash MANAGING MENOPAUSE WITH TCM FOR BOTH MALES AND FEMALES Menopause is a normal process that all women go through as they age. However, menopause meaning may not be the same for everyone as menopause affects every woman differently. And by not knowing what to expect at this stage of life, […]
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MANAGING MENOPAUSE WITH TCM FOR BOTH MALES AND FEMALES
Menopause is a normal process that all women go through as they age. However, menopause meaning may not be the same for everyone as menopause affects every woman differently. And by not knowing what to expect at this stage of life, menopause can be a daunting experience for most women.
Before we discuss about menopause treatment, let’s take a look at the menopause age and symptoms, specifically at menopause for women. The average age of menopause for women is normally between 45 and 55 years old. Some may undergo early menopause. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive life as menstrual cycles stop permanently. Due to the natural depletion of eggs in women as a result of ageing, the body will decrease its production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. These changes in the hormone levels can account to most menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, menopause hot flushes, night sweats, body aches, loss of sexual drive and insomnia.
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So, how long does menopause last?
There are 3 stages of menopause: Perimanopause, Menopause and Postmenopause:
Perimenopause begins as soon as a woman starts experiencing changes in her menstrual cycles – longer, shorter, heavier, lighter, longer or shorter intervals – with the accompaniment of menopause-like symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia and vaginal dryness. Most women experience this stage in their 40s, some in their 30s, especially if you have a related family and/or medical history. Perimenopausal symptoms can last four years on average.
Menopause starts officially after you have experienced 12 consecutive months without menstruation. A woman’s level of interest in sex during menopause drops due to the loss of reproductive hormones – they find that they are not as easily aroused and may be less sensitive to touching and stroking. This may also affect the quality of sex after menopause.
Postmenopause follows after menopause where most menopausal symptoms may have eased by now. However, a woman after menopause may be subjected to increased risk for a number of health conditions, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and urinary incontinence.
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While most usually associate menopause to women, some men can also undergo menopause, more commonly referred to as andropause. Menopause for men can occur anytime from age 45 to 60. Testosterone is a hormone which fuels puberty for males and accounts for a man’s appearance and sexual characteristics. As a man ages, testosterone levels decline and may result in symptoms similar to female menopause. However, male menopausal symptoms are less noticeable than women’s. Unlike in a postmenopausal woman where hormone production halts completely, testosterone can still be produced in men during old age and a healthy man may be able to produce sperm after the age 80.
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Manage Menopause with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Menopause is also referred to “更年期“ in Chinese. 中医 has been popular among women facing menopausal symptoms and can help women relieve some symptoms during this transitional phase. Chinese Medicine believes menopause is a natural process due to ageing and can result in an imbalance of yin 并 yang in the kidneys. From the viewpoint of TCM, the kidneys regulate growth and development, as well as the ability to reproduce. Therefore, menopausal women are either deficient in yin, yang, or both, which explains no two women can experience identical symptoms during the process.
Menopausal women with kidney yin deficiency may experience symptoms such as shorter menstrual cycles, menstrual blood that appears bright red in colour, hot flushes, profuse sweating, constant thirst and dry skin etc. On the other hand, menopausal women with kidney yang deficiency may encounter symptoms such as menstrual flow which appears dark red in colour, cold limbs, frequent urination and swelling in the lower limbs etc.
TCM usually use a combination of herbal medicine and acupuncture to treat menopause.
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Not every woman needs to go through childbirth, but every woman needs to go through menopause. You can start paying more attention to your body during this transitional phase, by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, eating well, exercising regularly to maintain a healthy physique. Some symptoms of menopause can be self-managed by dressing lightly, bringing a fan, avoiding spicy foods and caffeine etc. It is also important to learn some relaxation techniques to help ease stress and alleviate mood swings.
There are also steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis due to the lack of estrogen. You can include foods which are high in calcium and Vitamin D in your diet, or start weight-bearing exercises to improve bone health.
Beside calcium, Vitamin D or menopause supplements, you may also consider evening primrose oil to alleviate pain and discomfort during menopause. Evening primrose oil contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids which play an essential role in the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. These are thought to help counter hormonal changes associated with menopause.
Soy is also a popular natural alternative to manage menopause symptoms. Soy is found in foods such as tofu and soy milk and contains chemical compounds called isoflavones which is similar to estrogen. They may help to reduce hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause.
As menopause increases your risk to several health conditions, it is essential to go for regular health screenings and doctor’s visits to ensure you are in the pink of health, even after your reproductive years.
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