HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) ALTERNATIVES
Sandy is a 48-year-old woman who enjoyed a healthy sexual relationship with her husband. However, since her total hysterectomy five years ago, she has noted a sharp decline in her sex drive. It has also become uncomfortable to have sex and it’s causing problems in her marriage. Her husband is very loving and tried to be understanding, but she worries that he will lose patience with her. She wonders if she is just too old to still enjoy sex as she once did. In addition to libido and discomfort with sex, she also has problems with insomnia, depression, fatigue and irritability. Since her hysterectomy, she has gained 30 pounds and feels trouble with memory and concentration. She feels like she is in fog all the time and worries about getting premature Alzheimer’s.
This is a typical case of a woman who is in her 40s with deficient hormone levels. Sexual function is a product of multiple, complex interactions among endocrine, metabolic, psychological and nutritional factors. It is important to recognize that symptoms of sexual dysfunction in women can represent an underlying medical problem. Chronic low levels of sex hormones in women are often associated with long-term complications including osteoporosis, premature heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. If properly diagnosed and treated, it can slow the progress of aging and restore hormonal balance.
A graceful symmetry between the opposing forces of yin and yang provides the foundation for many medical treatments developed in China. Maintaining the symmetry – balance — is the key to health. “There must be a balance between the mind and body,” explains Liu. “The body follows the orders of mind. We ask our body to do hundreds of things at once, and the body tries. But if the body is overwhelmed it can’t comply, that’s when the problems come. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, disturbed sleep, weight gain, dysmenorrhea, infertility, endometriosis, depression, stress, hypertension. We live in a high-stress society and need to know our limitations.”
Medical practitioners in China have been honing techniques to achieve that balance by harnessing and manipulating internal and external energy forces for centuries. Acupuncture, Jane’s specialty, is one such technique. The premise is that imbalances in energy flow cause disease, and acupuncture is a way to create and maintain proper symmetry.
When you seek acupuncture and oriental herbal treatment for your hormonal imbalance disorder, you may receive one of numerous diagnoses, including deficient Qi (energy), deficient blood of the heart, spleen, or liver, stagnant Qi, etc. Depending upon your history or physical symptoms, as well as your physical examination, specific acupuncture points and herbs will be selected that are appropriate for your condition.
Needles are inserted in various patterns into the series of energy pathways throughout the body and then manipulated. Manipulation of needles – usually by twirling or gentle pumping – in specific locations affect specific body organs and functions include the hormones system. Energy flow is increased, decreased, or redirected as need.
Chinese herbs are used to regulate the female endocrine system. Jane Liu treats PMS with a range of herbs. She explains, “balance the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and regulate the hormone system, thereby hormonal balance is reestablished, decreasing premenstrual syndrome.” The herbs she chooses for treatment are intended to act as hormonal precursors and balancers, and also to improve liver function and digestion, all components of the disease. Jane Liu states, “ The result is usually symptom relief as a result of treating the underlying cause. Patients consistently report a marked decrease in hot flashes, pain with intercourse, digestive symptoms, along with an improvement in mental outlook and decrease of lassitude.”
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