The 7 Dwarfs of Menopause... And What to Do About Them

If you are reading this I am guessing you already know the 7 dwarfs of menopause:

So-Hot-I-Want-To-Rip-My-Cloths-Off Dwarf

Cranky Dwarf

Lethargic Dwarf

Unable-to-Stay-Asleep Dwarf

Forgetfulness Dwarf

Weight Gain Dwarf

Low Libido Dwarf

Sound familiar?  Worried this might be your experience in the future?  You are not alone.  About 75-85% of women experience hot flashes in menopause or even before they are officially in menopause (as defined by the cessation of menstrual cycles for one year).  Other common symptoms of menopause are lethargy, weight gain, poor memory, vaginal dryness and low libido.  Sleep is commonly impacted with difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early and not being able to go back to sleep.  And mood swings…let’s talk about the mood swings.  Crying one minute, wanting to scream at everyone in your household the next minute and then crying again.  Women in menopause often feel like they no longer have control over their emotional life. 

Despite all these uncomfortable symptoms menopause can also be a time of great change for women.  It is a time in many women’s lives when they move away from a focus on caring for others to caring for themselves.  It can be a time of immense personal power, creativity, and expansiveness.  Many women find a new voice or direction during this time in their life. 

In Chinese Medicine menopause is related to the natural decline of prenatal essence that comes with aging.  When a baby is conceived it receives a certain type of essence from its parents called prenatal essence.  It is our constitutional inheritance and its quantity is finite.  When our supply of prenatal essence is used up in the process of living we transition out of this life.  We can slow down the use of our prenatal essence by supplying our body with good postnatal essence through healthy eating and living (more on that in another blog post).  A woman loses some of this vital essence each month when she menstruates.  Menopause is the body’s wise homeostatic mechanism to slow the loss of essence.  While it may not feel like it, menopause actually slows the aging process.      

Unfortunately many of us enter into menopause with prenatal essence already depleted due to lifestyle and dietary habits.  Anxiety, depression, stress, poor diet, overwork, smoking and alcohol all impact our store of prenatal essence and thus influence the severity of menopause symptoms. 

But all is not doom and gloom.  There are many things women can do to set themselves up for a smooth transition into menopause or bring relief to a menopause experience that is less than smooth.  See below for a few suggestions!

3 Ways to Get the Menopause Dwarfs Under Control:

1.     Dietary changes.  Avoid spicy foods, greasy foods, coffee and alcohol as these can all aggravate menopausal symptoms.  Instead go for dark leafy greens, seaweed, whole grains (such as rice, spelt, oats) and deep colored fruit.  It is best to eat cooked rather than raw foods (more on the why behind this in another blog post!).   

2.     Reduce emotional stress.  Easier said than done, I know!  We live in a hectic society where we eat irregularly, work long hours and take care of everyone and everything but ourselves.  Commit to a daily or weekly practice of yoga, taiqi, qi gong and/or meditation.  These practices all help to reduce stress and preserve vital essence.  Also do whatever cardiovascular and strength training exercise that you enjoy.  Exercise is a great stress reliever (and helps if you are struggling with weight gain in menopause). 

3.     Get regular acupuncture.  Acupuncture works to relieve menopause symptoms by restoring homeostasis and addressing the root cause of a woman’s unique constellation of symptoms.  Each woman going through menopause will have a different experience.  Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and crafts a treatment plan that is individualized to the patterns and symptoms of that particular person.  Regardless of what set of symptoms you are currently experiencing acupuncture can provide lasting relief! 

Do you know someone struggling with menopause?  Please share this post with them today!