If you’re a woman living in the United States and you turn 51, statistics show that you are about to experience a natural biological process called menopause. It happens to every single woman, and even though it’s not considered a health issue requiring medical intervention, the approximately 6,000 U.S. women that become menopausal each day (more than 2 million every year) certainly don’t consider it a laughing matter.
Defined as the final menstrual period (FMP), menopause marks the moment when a woman stops having monthly periods and can no longer get pregnant. Although it ends fertility, many women feel free and relieved in their post-menopausal years as they no longer need to worry about having their period or becoming pregnant. Others, however, are bothered by the physical and psychological symptoms triggered by this process and are either fearful or ashamed to ask for help.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Menopause, And How Do They Impact Women’s Lives?
During perimenopause (the period leading up to menopause when a woman’s body makes the transition towards infertility), some of the most common signs and symptoms women experience include:
- Hot flashes. A primary menopause symptom, hot flashes are described as a sudden feeling of warmth lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, which leads to flashing and redness particularly in the upper part of the body. An estimated 75 to 85 percent of U.S. women are believed to experience hot flashes for 1-2 years after the cessation of menstrual periods.
- Emotional changes. Menopause is often an emotional rollercoaster, with women undergoing feelings of irritability, tension, anxiety, aggressiveness, and sadness. Some of the mood changes linked to menopause can be eased through regular exercise, a healthy diet, social interactions, and self-calming techniques such as yoga and meditation.
- Crashing fatigue. Menopausal women may be taken by surprise by an overwhelming feeling of tiredness, exhausted, and depletion of energy, which can occur at any moment of the day (but often after eating). It’s important to remember that crashing fatigue is caused by fluctuations in hormonal levels and is a normal symptom experienced by many women.
- Sleep disorders. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60 percent of women going through menopause have difficulties sleeping – whether getting to sleep or staying asleep at night. Hormone therapy, regular aerobic exercise, and relaxation techniques are conducive to getting quality sleep.
Menopause is universal, but women’s experiences, as well as their attitudes and perceptions of the event, may greatly vary. Some sail through it with barely any symptoms, and the only indication that they are indeed going through this transition is the complete cessation of their menstrual periods. Others, unfortunately, find themselves overwhelmed by menstrual symptoms, and the failure to treat them in a timely manner may negatively impact their health, work performance, and overall quality of life.
A 2014 study conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and published in the journal Menopause measured the extent to which menopausal symptoms, particularly moderate to severe hot flashes, affected the work productivity and increased health care costs of approximately 500,000 U.S. women (data on health insurance claims was used in the study). Overall, women who reported having severe hot flashes had 1.5 million more health care visits than women who didn’t have them. During the 12-month study period, the costs for the additional health care services totaled $339,559,458, while the cost of lost work was $27,668,410.
What’s the Role of Chiropractic in Relieving Menopausal Symptoms?
The female reproductive system is kept healthy by the ovaries, which secrete two groups of female sex hormones – estrogen and progesterone – that work together throughout the woman’s life to ensure fertility, breast development, fat distribution in the hips and legs, the development of reproductive organs, and the regulation of the menstrual cycle. During menopause, the body starts producing less of the female hormones, and the changing hormone levels during this transition is the direct cause of some of the most troublesome menopausal symptoms.
Chiropractic care deals with the spine and nerve system, using safe and gentle adjustments to reduce and eliminate subluxations in the spine. Among many other things, spine misalignments also interfere with the proper functioning of the hypothalamus, the master control of the body that indirectly regulates your body’s most important functions, from hunger and sleep pattern to the production of sex hormones.
Through massage therapy, heat/ice therapy, ultrasound, laser therapy, nutritional planning, and other holistic treatments, your therapist can help you manage and reduce the negative effects of menopause, including mood disorders, sleep problems, irritability, loss of libido, and anxiety and depression. Coupled with exercising nutritional counseling, your local chiropractor can significantly change your experience and attitude towards menopause, helping you accept and enjoy this new stage of your life.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.