Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine

by Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM

Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine, Johanna Utter, L.Ac., FABORM in Davis, CA

Perimenopause and Chinese Medicine

Perimenopause is the period of time during which your body is approaching menopause and can begin approximately 8-13 years prior to your last menstrual period. The number of perimenopausal symptoms you have may vary quite a bit. Often, one of the first symptoms to signal perimenopause is insomnia before your period. Although most people equate hot flashes and night sweats with low estrogen, the process of perimenopause usually begins first with a drop in progesterone.  

What Is Menopause? 

Menopause, often called the “change of life,” is a normal life process, not a disease. The word, “menopause” means “cessation of menses,” and it signals the end of your reproductive years. It happens when your ovaries no longer release an egg every month and your periods stop. Menopause is considered normal when happens after age 40. Prior to that, it is called premature menopause. The average age of menopause in the US is 51. You are considered to be officially in menopause 13 months after your last menstrual period or following surgical removal of your uterus and ovaries. 

Other causes of menopause include hysterectomy, oophorectomy, surgery, autoimmune disorders, or damage to the ovaries from radiation or chemotherapy.

You May Be in Perimenopause if You Have...

  • irregular periods
  • heavy bleeding or scanty bleeding
  • insomnia 
  • fatigue
  • bloating
  • infertility
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • high FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
  • headaches
  • weight gain, especially around the middle
  • anxiety, depression, mood swings
  • heart palpitations
  • joint and muscle aches and pains
  • changes in libido
  • vaginal dryness
  • urine leakage or urgency
  • forgetfulness / brain fog
  • inflammation
    The severity of these symptoms will depend upon your lifestyle and dietary habits throughout your life. Stress is usually the number one hormone disrupter, affecting the entire endocrine system.

The Chinese View of Menopause

In Chinese medicine, women's lives are in cycles of 7. Puberty begins around 2x7 (14) and menopause occurs around 7x7 (49).

Menopause is referred to as a “Second Spring.” It's an opportunity to balance the energies of the body to experience future good health. It's also an opportunity for a rebirth of yourself, for yourself, and is a chance for you to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for a long, healthy life. During this time, you move from the role of caring for others to rediscovering yourself and to sharing the wisdom you’ve gained throughout your life.

There is Hope!

With its long recorded history of safely and effectively treating gynecological conditions, Chinese medicine can be extremely successful in treating the insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, and other uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.

  • Acupuncture modulates the nervous system, reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, decreases pain, and restores healthy body functioning. 
  • Chinese herbs balance hormones, calm the spirit, and resolve underlying patterns of disharmony. 
  • Treatment is holistic, individualized, patient-centered, and empowering.

What to Expect from Treatment with Chinese Medicine 

  • gentle, non-invasive, personalized treatment
  • easier periods 
  • improved mood and well-being
  • reduced stress
  • more restful sleep
  • better digestion 
  • more energy, strength, vitality
  • increased libido

Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment may take several months.

Once the causes of your menopause symptoms have been established, a Chinese medicine practitioner will give you advice about specific diet, lifestyle and exercise choices that will best support your body. 

How Can You Help Yourself?

  • Regular weekly acupuncture treatment 
  • Chinese herbs prescribed by a licensed herbalist
  • Moderate exercise to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, increase endorphins, reduce pain, and build bone density, and improve mood. 
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods 
  • Take time each day to relax and enjoy your life
  • Decrease caffeine, alcohol, warm temperatures, hot drinks, and manage stress
  • No cold, frozen, or raw food or drinks. 
  • An anti-inflammatory diet, rich in vegetables to help the body metabolize hormones. Avoid caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates, and vegetable oils. Add fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, grass-fed meats, and pastured eggs.
  • Practice lovingkindness towards your body and yourself.

“Menopause creates the opportunity for a transformation, a new beginning, as a woman becomes free to discover, pursue or complete her life’s mission and touch her spirit—and the spirits of those around her—in a profound and meaningful way.” Nan Lu