Problems with the Menopause, Pre-menstrual Syndrome and Period Pain
Most women suffer from womens problems at some point in their life. The symptoms can be stressful, embarrassing or debilitating, but help is available, so if you are suffering from PMT, period problems or the menopause it is worth exploring your options. Nowadays an increasing number of women (of all ages) are using acupuncture to help with these personal problems.
Acupuncture and Menopausal Symptoms
About the menopause: The average age for a woman to reach menopause is about 52, but some women become menopausal in their 40s. You are said to have reached the menopause when you have not had a period for one year. The menopause is the end of egg production (ovulation) which occurs as a result of falling hormone (oestrogen) levels. Usually periods do not stop suddenly, more commonly they become less frequent over time (peri-menopausal phase) before stopping. Typically, menopausal symptoms last for 2 5 years, but may persist for over 10 years.
Menopausal symptoms are due to natural changes in hormone levels during the perimenopause and menopause. Common symptoms include:
Hot flushes and night sweats (with or without palpitations)
Sleep disturbances, tiredness, short-term memory loss, poor concentration
Vaginal dryness (with pain on intercourse)
Loss of libido (sex drive)
Mood swings, anxiety and irritability
Urinary issues, needing to urinate more frequently and urgently
Loss of bone density ( a natural feature of ageing, accelerates with the menopause)
HRT hormone replacement therapy is the most commonly used conventional medical treatment indicated for short-term treatment of menopausal symptoms, but side-effects may be a concern. There is evidence that acupuncture may help reduce symptoms of the peri-menopause and menopause by:
Regulating hormone levels
Increasing relaxation and reducing tension, altering the brains mood chemistry, reducing serotonin levels
Stimulating the release of endorphins and other physiological factors
Menopause Self-help advice
Regular sleep habits
Avoid hot triggers eg spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, smoking and keep your bedroom cool at night
Acupuncture and Pre- Menstrual Tension PMT
About Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS): The cause of PMS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be linked to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. Pre menstrual symptoms may be experienced up to 2 weeks before the start of the period, they may be physical or emotional and vary from person to person including:
Fluid retention and feeling bloated
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Changes to your skin and hair
Backache, muscle or joint pain
Sleep problems (insomnia)
Dizziness, poor concentration and forgetfulness
Nausea or food cravings
Mood swings, feeling tearful or irritable
Depression and anxiety
Loss of sex drive
Preliminary studies suggest that acupuncture reduces PMS symptoms by:
Increasing relaxation, reducing tension and serotonin levels in the body
Releasing endorphins and other factors changing the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord
The WHO review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical acupuncture trials lists premenstrual syndrome as a condition for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown. Further studies are needed.
Acupuncture and Period Pain (Dysmenorrhoea)
Period pain affects about 75% of young women and 25% of adult women. For about 20% of women the pain may be so severe that it interferes with normal daily life. Period pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen (tummy) but may also spread to your back and or legs. In Chinese Medicine, the timing of your pain (before, during or after your period), the location of your period pain and the nature of the pain (eg cramping, pulling, sharp) are important diagnostic factors in identifying the underlying cause.
The WHO lists primary dysmenorrhoea (period pain) as a condition for which acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials to be an effective treatment.
Acupuncture may also be used to help treat lack of periods (amenorrhoea), irregular periods, heavy periods, flooding, spotting and other period problems.
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the bodys communication substances, such as hormones and neuro-transmitters. These influence the bodys self regulating mechanisms and stimulate the bodys own natural healing abilities thereby promoting physical and emotional wellbeing.
Stimulation of certain acupuncture points on the body has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
Several medical conditions may be associated with severe period pain including endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, problems with IUDs (intrauterine devices).
If your symptoms are severe or persistent it is important to consult your GP.
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