Natural Health and Healing Therapy

Why Women Menopause According To TCM Herbalism

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the stage in a woman's life following the cessation of the flow of Heavenly Water is referred to as 'second Spring' to represent a renewal of energy and opportunities. In the West, the transition is known as menopause, a term derived from Greek that means the stopping of the monthly period. However, the association of menopause with an abrupt absence of periods is a limited view of this complex transition. Our passage to Second Spring takes place over a number of years and involves an intricate and complicated series of changes that is not restricted to our periods or the physical realm. For a small percentage of us, our periods will stop suddenly, while most of us will undergo irregularity in our cycles for
two to five years before the permanent loss of our menstrual cycle. Some of us will notice changes a decade prior to the beginning of Second Spring. Generally, a woman is said to be menopausal when there has been a complete cessation of menstruation for six to twelve months after the age of forty-five.

According to Western medicine, this is due to decreased production of hormones in mid-life. The number of ovarian follicles, which are responsible for our reproductive force, decreases from approximately 600,000 at birth to 300,000 at the onset of menses, to about 10,000 when our periods stop. Thus, menopause is a progression that begins at birth. According to the Nei Jing, Second Spring is the third important phase in a woman's reproductive life, following Heavenly .Water and childbirth. As we know, a woman's life evolves in
seven-year cycles, and after our Heavenly Water begins to flow at the age of fourteen, we reach our peak time of development from age twenty-one to twenty-eight.


When we reach thirty-five (seven times five), our Spleen starts to slow down, and the production of Blood, Qi and postnatal Essence decreases. Because muscles are also governed by the Spleen, as it weakens, muscles start to slacken and wrinkles form. By the age of forty-nine (seven times seven) we have less Blood, Qi and postnatal Essence and must use more of our stored prenatal Essence. With less Blood produced, the Penetrating Vessel, which carries Blood to the Uterus, will not be full, and as a consequence, the Uterus will not overflow with its excess. Our Heavenly Water will diminish and eventually cease. In an effort to conserve our Essence as much as possible, the wisdom of our bodies stops the monthly discharge of Blood. It is interesting that the cessation of our periods is generally perceived as the advancement of aging, when it is, in fact, our bodies' natural effort to slow down this process and bring new balance to our advancing years.


Women's Health After Menopause

Since Blood and Essence are no longer being lost on a monthly basis, the energy that had been used to ensure an adequate supply of Blood is freed up for us to do with as we choose. As a result, we feel rejuvenated and experience an awakening of new potential - Second Spring. The transition marks a change in Yin relative to Yang energy, since less Blood, which is Yin, is produced. Traditionally, in our

pre-menopausal years, we are focused on relationships, careers, creating a family and home. Our attention is often on nurturing and caring for others. 'Women who have careers outside the home are, typically still
responsible for looking after the children and the household. Often our self-esteem and identities have been defined and also compromised by our relationships. We are a wife of so-and-so, or the mother of, or the daughter of. Even though we may have a career the cultural pressures to be identified in relationship,
traditionally with a man, are very strong.

In many cases, then, being in the world comes later for women, as we develop an independent sense of self. Our power and achievements very often manifest at mid-life and beyond. This is a manifestation of our more apparent Yang energy. We become more passionate about our beliefs. We're able to express our anger. We are more apt to stand up for ourselves. There is a well-known Chinese saying: 'Women in their thirties are wolves; in their forties, tigers, and their fifties, dragons.'

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