Menopausal Symptoms, Hot Flushes

The term ‘menopause’ actually relates to the complete cessation of menstruation, though it is commonly used to describe the initial perimenopausal stage.

In women in the UK the menopause typically occurs about age 53. Around this time, women undergo a phase of declining ovarian function during which they make the transition from a reproductive to non-reproductive state. This phase usually lasts around 2-5 years. The menopause may be brought on earlier by hysterectomy or severe shock or trauma. The menopause is not a ‘disease’, it is a natural physiological transition which occurs with age. Some women have no symptoms at all.

The age at which menopause occurs and the severity and duration of menopausal symptoms is linked to various factors including genetics, obesity, early puberty, lifestyle, work demands, diet, smoking, stress and overall health.

The first sign that you may be approaching the menopause (perimenopausal) is usually a change in the pattern of your monthly periods. You may have one every two or three weeks, or you may not have one for months at a time. These periods may be very light or very heavy (menorrhagia).

SYMPTOMS OF THE MENOPAUSE

Most women will suffer from vasomotor symptoms, hot flushes (‘flashes’) and night sweats. Typically these occur for 4-5 years, but some women may experience them for more than 10 years.

Other symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness, fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and palpitations
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Vaginal dryness, pain or itching during sex
  • Loss of libido (sex drive)

Conventional medical treatment typically includes hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and stress management.

Acupuncture for Menopausal Symptoms

Systematic reviews and randomised clinical trials suggest that acupuncture and/or moxibustion can help reduce hot flushes and increase health related quality of life in menopausal women.

Acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of the menopause and peri-menopause by:

  • Regulating serum estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteotrophic hormone
  • Calming sympathetic nervous activity, promoting relaxation and reducing tension
  • Altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help combat negative affective states (feelings)

See also:

Treating Menopausal Symptoms
“I treat lots of women for menopausal symptoms. Menopausal symptoms can be debilitating and distressing. It is clear that emotional stress contributes to the severity of menopausal symptoms. Many women in their 40s and 50s are juggling the demands of work and family, caring for parents, children or grandchildren.

Hot flushes and night sweats are exhausting and deplete the body of important essences. By reducing flushes and promoting good quality sleep, regular acupuncture treatment can help improve energy levels and strengthen mind and body to help us cope with the pressures of everyday life”.

Judy Bowen-Jones Lic Ac BSc Hons Ac MBAcC
FURTHER INFORMATION

Maciocia, G. (2007). Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Chinese Medicine. Menopausal Syndrome. 741-763. Elsevier

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For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.

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