Jun 20 2013

MENOPAUSE : Symptoms and Treatment

Menopause is a natural physiologic process; occurring between the ages of 40 and 58 (North American Menopause Society), with an average age of 51 among U.S. females.  It is a transition period, marking the termination of a woman’s “fertile” stage, often accompanied by a plethora of symptoms.  Most noted symptoms include: hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, fatigue and weight fluctuations.  Although the length of occurrence varies among individuals, majority of the aforementioned indicators persist for approximately 2 years, with several prolonging beyond 5 years.

According to Western Medicine, menopause is a condition that occurs when the ovaries cease to produce estradiol and progesterone every month.  Since menopause is a natural process, it doesn’t require any medical treatment.  However, treatments focus on relieving the symptoms and signs, in addition to any chronic conditions that occur with aging.  The standard treatment is Hormone Therapy, which is sometimes accompanied by side effects such as nausea, weight gain and breast tenderness.

Traditional Chinese Medicine treats menopause with a combination of acupuncture, herbal therapy and dieting.  According to a study at the University of Pittsburg, Dr. Susan Cohen D.S.N., A.P.R.N. conducted that after a course of acupuncture therapy, hot flashes decreased by 35% and insomnia by 50%, revealing a significant decrease of symptoms compared to the women who received conventional care.  In my experience, 80% to 90% of patients’ symptoms dissipate within 1 month of biweekly treatments.  However, it should be noted that since menopause is not a disease, but a chronic deficient condition, one to two supplementary treatments per month are required.  Additionally, herbs in conjunction to acupuncture are imperative to treating menopausal symptoms.  Since single herb therapy isn’t potent enough, herbal formulas have been presented as a more suitable solution.

Another therapy solution presented for menopause is phytoestrogen consumption.  These naturally produced compounds, resemble the estrogens produced by the human body, acting as antagonists of human estrogen.  Recent literature correlates increased levels of human estrogen with a greater number of breast cancer incidents.  Hence, why taking phytoestrogens can prevent the body from utilizing the “bad” estrogens.  A rich source for these phytoestrogens are soy bean and soy products, such as soy milk and tofu. 

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