Menopause becomes “official” after 12 months of a woman no longer having her natural period, in other cases menopause can be abrupt via a chemical or surgical induction. In 75-85% of women, symptoms of menopause will occur and the vast majority go untreated. The absence of estrogen in the body affects more than just fertility, this hormone plays a critical role in women’s overall health by regulating cholesterol, protecting the heart and blood vessels, and supporting mood and healthy bones. Lack of estrogen can contribute to decreased sexual desire, pain and discomfort during sex, vaginal dryness, and painful urinary issues. Estrogen plays a huge role in women’s well-being!
Women on average experience natural menopause at the age of 51.4 years old. However, the transition into menopause, a time known as perimenopause, can last for years prior. Both perimenopause and menopause can be a time of significant suffering. Some women experiencing this transitional time and early into menopause opt for hormone therapy (HT), which can be effective and offer significant relief. However, not all women are able to or want to begin hormone therapy. Hormone therapy, like any therapy, is not risk-free and it doesn’t address all symptoms common with perimenopause and menopause like urinary incontinence, brain fog, and sexual dysfunction. Those with a history of cardiovascular disease, a history of breast or endometrial cancer, and blood clots are unable to use hormone therapy. HT may not be for everyone, and many women are looking for alternative or complementary therapies to treat their symptoms.
Following menopause, women regularly suffer from reduced metabolism, loss of bone density, and mood disturbances. While we use other therapies to improve metabolism and bone density, acupuncture can increase our mood-boosting neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and endorphins) which improves mood issues that often accompany these new low to no estrogen levels.
Whether or not you are looking to use hormone therapy or you prefer to start with a more natural approach for your menopausal symptoms, acupuncture is a viable, safe, low-risk high-reward option that can be used as a stand-alone or in conjunction with other therapies for women to improve their quality of life – both during and following menopause.
Studies have shown that acupuncture can relieve many common symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, incontinence, fatigue, lowered sex drive, night sweats, memory issues, and depression – all with minimal to no negative side effects. Acupuncture can help restore the body’s natural balance by acting on the endocrine and nervous systems thereby reducing the severity of hot flashes, night sweats, stress, and insomnia. Also, the goal of hormone therapy is to use the lowest dose necessary for the shortest time to control symptoms and acupuncture may offer the ability to use very low-dose hormone therapy in conjunction with conventional treatment.