Everyone knows what menopause is but did you know that perimenopause can occur in your 40s, 30s or even earlier? Indications of perimenopause include hot flashes, fatigue, increased premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, mood swings, anxiety, and breast tenderness. Perimenopause typically lasts about four years. That means that before you officially even enter menopause (as defined by the cessation of your menstrual cycle for one year) you can start having many of the hallmark symptoms of menopause. Yikes!
Women experience perimenopause differently. Some women will have no to mild symptoms and some women will experience symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life. If you fall into the latter category acupuncture can help!
What I find in my acupuncture clinic is that women experience dramatically fewer and less intense hot flashes, they sleep better, are less fatigued and more emotionally stable. All with no negative side effects! Why not regulate your hormones now, get relief from any perimenopausal symptoms you are experiencing, and set yourself up for an easier transition into menopause?
From a western medical perspective perimenopause is marked by changing levels of hormones produced by the ovaries, mainly estrogen but also progesterone. Western medical treatments consist of hormone therapy, antidepressants and vaginal lubricants. Long-term use of systemic hormone therapy, including “bioidentical hormones”, has many risks including breast cancer, stroke and blood clots.
A recent meta-analysis reviewed a large body of research and found that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of perimenopause “by improving clinical symptoms such as menstrual disorders, hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and mood disorders.” The authors add that acupuncture benefits perimenopausal women by increasing estrogen levels and decreasing levels of FSH and LH along with other hormone regulation. Additionally, one study included in the meta-analysis compared acupuncture with Premarin oral intake. Premarin is a brand name for conjugated estrogens. The acupuncture group demonstrated superior patient outcomes over the group taking oral conjugated estrogens.
You might be interested in reading my blog post on menopause and embracing your second spring: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/2015/11/2/the-7-dwarfs-of-menopause-and-what-to-do-about-them