Menopause is not an event that many women look forward to. The “Change of Life” is shrouded in stories of hot flashes and insomnia that accompany the ending of menstrual bleeding. No woman can know what kind of menopause she will have, but if her biological mother had a menopause, then her experience can be a guide.
My own mother had a hysterectomy in the 1970s, and back then they took your ovaries too. Her menopause happened very early and was not helpful to my own expectations for myself.
Turns out menopause came really early for me in my 40s. I was feeling hot all the time and went into the western doctor to see if I had some kind of low grade fever/infection. I was totally surprised when my FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone) was at 121. FSH is a hormone your body makes to induce ovulation. But! When there are no more eggs left, your body keeps making the FSH because it doesn’t get the feedback that ovulation happened. As a result, FSH keeps going up and up. A menstruating woman’s FSH ranges from 4-20, then in peri-menopause goes up to 30, and then once you have stopped menstruating completely the number goes up to 130.
I was shocked and for a time, a little sad, and had to grieve the end of my menstruating self. As a pragmatist above alll else, I needed to set about how to relieve the symptoms that were so foreign to me, like suddenly being hot all the time. I have spent my life freezing to death and ceaselessly shopping for the perfect cashmere sweater. Now I am hot and sweating and looking for caftans.
I dove back into my Chinese Medicine books with a renewed and intimate understanding of what “steaming bones” and “yin deficient fire” meant. Chinese Medicine serves women’s health in detail and with a deep understanding of constellations of symptoms. I engage the medicine everyday in treating women for all manner of menstrual irregularities, and this includes menopause too! I found a formula that worked really well right away. My hot flashes and sweating reduced, and I was able to sleep through the night.
I also had a more thorough hormone test done with a new company that does dried urine testing. The more data I could collect on my hormones the more focused my treatment could be. It would also spare me the expense of purchasing a whole bunch of supplements and just using trial and error to figure out what made me feel better. With the merging of Chinese medicine formulas, 1 hormone test, and 3 supplements, I have gotten my symptoms under control. I still have a hot flash here and there, but I’m not wondering if I will burst into flames at any moment. I am also not expecting that I can stop the natural flow of aging. Growing old is a privilege. I look really do forward to my hair graying and carrying the accumulated wisdom and experience that I have earned through these years.
By Dr Jennifer Bezjak
Photo Credit - Mahle Air Cooling
I've been thinking about how the Year of the Pig in 2019 closed the 12 year astrological cycle, and how it 2020 might represent a year to wrap things up, end old patterns, and be ready for a new life. I've been reflecting on the themes of the last 12 years, and the profound shifts that have happened. I've also been feeling the urge to remove objects that lost their importance as a way to mentally prepare for this next cycle. I'm excited to see what this next 12 years will bring.
In the year 2020, we greet the Rat. The Rat is the first of the twelve signs. This means we are beginning a new 12 cycle. According to legend, the Jade Emperor set a challenge to create the order of the signs – they would be arranged according to their arrival to his celebration feast. The Rat and the Cat hopped lightly up onto the Ox’s back, unbeknownst to her, and hitched a ride. As they were crossing a river, though, Rat bumped Cat off into the water. When the Ox was about to cross the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed before the Emperor first!
What does this story mean to us? - The Rat is a bit tricky and opportunistic, but also quite clever and resourceful. Being first in the cycle, he represents the dawning of a new day, with plenty of Yang energy. Rats’ ability to multiply in numbers makes them a potent symbol of fertility and abundance.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Each circle of twelve years also brings through a new cycling of the elemental energies that develops over the course of a 60-year calendar. Rat of 2020 is Metal. Metal rat is relatively grounded and stable. On the surface, he is always positive and sure of himself, but in secret, he worries that he is not always in the right.
Rat’s optimism and dynamic personality make him popular, even though his way of expressing himself might seem a bit brash or even downright rude. Rats know how to make the best out of a bad situation. They like to hoard rather than spend. This can be thrifty, but might also lead to hanging on to things that aren’t essential. Time to keep only objects and people in your life that spark joy.
Rats tend to run around in a burst of energy and then get tired and sick. They also tend to get busy and forget to eat, and then eat too much of the wrong things. So, let’s all remind ourselves to pause frequently for rest and nourishment, setting ourselves up to do well when it’s go time.
From San Francisco Integrative Medicine, we wish you good health and all the very best that the New Year has to offer!
Photo credit anonymous pintrest photo