Considering the Menopause

Earlier I was sitting in my office doing admin listening to a discussion on Radio 4 about the menopause. My post arrived and in it was a book I had recently ordered: Managing Menopause Naturally with Chinese Medicine, by Honora Lee Wolfe.

Why the growing interest in the menopause? Personally, the menopause is more on my mind as I approach my mid-40's, my middle age, as, although my periods may not stop until I'm 50, physiologically I'm already changing, I'm peri-menopausal.

Consequently, I'm taking stock and reviewing my life-style choices.  Preserving my energy reserves (Jing) for later in my life is more of a priority.  For example, I’m balancing my tendency towards Yang activity like mountain biking with more Yin activity – contemplation in woods and Yin yoga. Likewise, I’m making more informed dietary choices such as substituting Yin depleting coffee for Blood nourishing drinks, such as hibiscus and nettle teas.

If you are interested in reading a thought provoking article on traditional Chinese acupuncture and the menopause I recommend, “Topics in Gynaecology, Part One, Menopause by Jane Lyttleton,” Journal of Chinese Medicine (JCM), No. 33, May 1990. She explores the idea that social and cultural factors may influence a woman’s experience of the menopause. She questions, could the Western preoccupation with beauty and youth be adversely affecting the psyche of our menopausal women? She explains:

“Stereotypes are powerful tools which could mould the social reality of individuals (…) the Lugbara women in Uganda (…) gain status after menopause say they experience no menopausal symptoms. The Indian women of Mexico become heads of their married sons’ families and households when they reach the menopause and sail through without a hiccup.”

She explores the idea that psychologically life changes that occur concurrently with middle age may be having as much of an impact as hormonal (physiological) changes.

As an acupuncturist I view menopausal symptoms as symptomatic of yin-yang disequilibrium, but more about the traditional Chinese Medicine interpretation of the menopause another day …