How to restore hormonal balance through acupuncture
As a clinic we provide acupuncture treatment for a wide and diverse range of conditions and issues – everything, in fact, from stress and anxiety to headaches, hay fever, sleep issues and musculoskeletal problems.
However, regular readers of my blog will also know that I have a particular interest and specialism in women’s health.
There is a tendency when people talk about women’s health for it to be used as a catch-all for fertility and pregnancy. But issues relating specifically to childbirth are only part of the women’s health story.
And whilst I do an awful lot of work with women who are either struggling to become pregnant or require support during pregnancy, a lot of the women’s health treatment we provide here at The Acupuncturist is linked to far more common wellbeing issues.
One of the biggest influences on women’s health – both physically and mentally – is the production and biological management of hormones, and you’d be surprised how often hormone imbalances linked to the menstrual cycle can be at the root of problems that might otherwise seem completely unrelated to female health.
Hormonal imbalances can have a profound impact on emotional and physical wellbeing and occur when there is a disproportionate amount of oestrogen present in the body compared to progesterone. This is also known as oestrogen dominance.
In normal circumstances the menstrual cycle is regulated through a perfect balance of these two important hormones, but occasionally an increase in oestrogen production throws that balance out of kilter, and this can lead to a number of common but unpleasant symptoms, including:
- irregular periods
- mood swings, and other symptoms usually allied to PMS such as sleep issues and hot flashes
- weight gain
- increased stress hormone levels
- uterine fibroids (non-cancerous growths of the uterus)
- elevated risk of heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis
What causes hormone imbalance?
Fluctuations in oestrogen hormone production that lead to persistent imbalances can’t be attributed to a single cause, but research has shown that factors such as ageing, generalised stress or anxiety, and poor nutrition can all contribute to the problem.
Long-term birth control medication has also been shown to be a contributor to hormonal imbalance due to the high dosage oestrogen ingredients they require to be effective – up to four times higher than biological oestrogen production generates.
The period immediately prior to menopause starting – known as perimenopause – is also a natural cause of oestrogen dominance because of the sudden and significant hormonal changes that the decline of a woman’s reproductive life triggers.
How do I know if I have oestrogen dominance?
Only tests to determine hormone levels can scientifically determine whether you have abnormal levels of oestrogen. However, there are common symptoms and if you suffer with one or more of them then there’s a good chance hormonal imbalance could be at the root of the problem – especially if you’re about to enter or have entered menopause.
The most common symptoms are:
- chronic fatigue
- depression or anxiety disorder
- restless legs syndrome
- digestive or bowel disorders
How does acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is effective in dealing with a wide range of general emotional and physical wellbeing issues, and it is especially effective in mitigating or reducing hormonal imbalances because the restoration of balance in the body is at the very heart of the philosophy of this ancient Chinese treatment.
Many if not most of the health issues we experience can be traced back to an imbalance in the body’s natural energy, known as qi. The painless insertion of superfine needles under skin stimulates that energy and removes any blockages in the network of pathways – known as meridians – that it travels through.
The nature of your symptoms is also a good indicator of exactly where we need to focus the acupuncture you receive.
The strategic points at which the needles are inserted are linked to specific areas and organs of the body, and many people are surprised to learn that the locations of these points are often far removed from the anatomical locations of the areas they are linked to.
Of all the organs, the liver plays the biggest role in menstrual health and so the likelihood is that any acupuncture you receive will focus on restoring balance in this area.
How many acupuncture sessions will I need?
That’s difficult to answer without understanding your personal circumstances and symptoms, however most hormonal imbalances respond well to several acupuncture sessions received over time.
I am also a big advocate of an integrated approach to health management, and I believe that making changes to your lifestyle that complement your acupuncture treatment – typically eating better and exercising more – will help you to restore balance more quickly.
If you’d like to know more about how acupuncture can help you to overcome oestrogen dominance, please contact me for an informal and confidential chat.