It’s interesting; the word “menopause” isn’t even in the traditional Chinese medical vocabulary. You can look in every classical traditional Chinese medical text—you won’t find it. What you will find are references to the symptoms women experience when they reach this life transition. Actually, TCM calls these symptoms “menstrual cycle ending symptoms.” So you may be surprised to learn that menopause is essentially a Western concept.
TCM views menopause as a natural progression—a woman’s menstrual cycle has a beginning and an end. This deep energy shift extends beyond physical changes, and has the power to affect a woman’s mind, emotions and spirit. Men go through a natural progression as well. A man’s transition comes with aging—they, too, experience physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes as a result.
Every person falls under natural law. While you can’t control the fact that you will age, you do have control over the quality of your health as you age. From the beginning to the end of this life-cycle, if a woman is healthy, her menstruation will be regular and problem-free. But if her health is poor and her Qi is unbalanced, her body may display symptoms such as irregular and painful periods, breast tenderness, headaches, cramping, and fever, to name just a few.
It’s surprising that many Western women accept these menstrual symptoms as “normal.” Over time, chronic symptoms like these can lead to more serious problems like the formation of masses, tumors, and even cancer, if left untreated and unresolved. And women who have regular menstrual symptoms will most likely have menopausal symptoms when their cycle begins to end or stops altogether. These symptoms are not the result of menopause but the ongoing condition of their bodies before they reach this transition.
There is good news in all of this! TCM is built on the foundation of prevention. This means that women (and men) can achieve good health with an understanding of how to increase and balance their internal energy. Time-tested healing modalities like acupuncture, herbal therapy, Qigong, along with positive lifestyle changes, offer every person the support to accomplish good health. Women who have already reached menopause can benefit from these healing modalities without medication and its problematic side-effects.
As we age, our Qi naturally declines. This means we have less energy to “spend” on our daily routine. If no adjustment is made for this energy “gap,” the body and its organs will be affected. The Kidney and Liver are two organs integral to women’s health.
The Kidney is the powerhouse of the body’s Qi. It stores energy reserves and sends Qi to organs that may be deficient. When the Kidney itself is weak or deficient, all the organs, and a woman’s overall health, will eventually suffer.
The Liver controls the smooth flow of blood, Qi, and emotions. The emotion that resonates with the Liver is anger, so chronic stress and anger can deplete the Liver of its Qi. Most people do not fully realize the very powerful effect that thoughts and emotion have on their health.
But the important message is: it’s never too late to improve your health. Every person is born with a self-healing ability. Women in particular have a unique ability to heal because of their menstrual cycle and their special life-giving organs: their ovaries and uterus. These organs give women the capacity to create wellness so their body can function in a healthy way—at any age.
Menopause is an energy gateway—a unique chance for a woman to prepare her body, mind and spirit for a healthy, long life. It’s a time when she can heal, strengthen herself, and balance and harmonize her energies. Part of anyone’s life’s work is to discover their mission. Deep within every woman is the answer. Menopause creates the opportunity for a transformation, a new beginning, as a woman becomes free to discover, pursue or complete her life’s mission and touch her spirit—and the spirits of those around her—in a profound and meaningful way.