I live in Hong Kong, and have recently started to compare notes on the menopause with Chinese friends and acquaintances. It seems that for Chinese women, hot flashes and night sweats are uncommon experiences, and very few of them choose hormone replacement therapy. It is an interesting fact that fewer Chinese women experience noticeable menopausal symptoms, compared with the majority of Caucasian women.
What explains the difference between the typical Chinese woman's experience of menopause and the typical Western woman's experience?
Based on my observations, I would say that it is a combination of diet, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine that is the determining factor in maintaining their health through menopause.
In Chinese medicine the physiological stages are defined in seven-year segments.
A woman’s first seven-year cycle is when “kidney” energy gets stronger. In the second seven-year set, a pituitary gland and sexual hormone called Tian Gui arrives, the Ren meridian opens up, and the Chong meridian is full of energy. This brings on menstruation and other changes.
It is in the seventh cycle of seven years when this cycle begins to reverse. A woman’s Ren meridian energy drops, energy in the Chong meridian weakens and the Tian Gui hormone slows or stops production. Timing of all these changes varies because woman with stronger “kidney” energy will menstruate longer.
When a woman arrives at menopause the ovaries stop producing eggs and they stop manufacturing estrogen. During menopause these ‘retired’ ovaries transfer their function to the adrenal glands.
If we accept the 'seven-year stages' theory, we know that nothing happens suddenly. When a woman's kidney qi starts to decline, the yang rises to the surface, causing hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, irritability, dry eyes, vertigo and insomnia.
The yin-yang balance can be restored with natural remedies, yoga, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle changes. If a woman is already suffering from kidney yin’s deficiency due to stress, constant activity, long hours, irregular eating habits, excess mental activity, etc. with not enough time allowed for the body to rejuvenate, inevitably menopausal symptoms will be magnified.
Using adrenal gland cultivators such as Dong Quai (Chinese Angelica root), Di Huang (Rehmenia root) and others will let the adrenal glands gain more strength and work smarter over a three or four month period.
On the other hand if her qi is balanced, a woman may hardly notice the transition.