An Integrative Approach to Menopause

An Integrative Approach to Menopause

Menopause is nothing to fear. 

With an integrative approach to menopause, we can reduce the common symptoms of menopause by addressing your health as a whole and supporting your body as you enter this new phase of life!

Many women dread menopause and the symptoms that come with it. While the symptoms of menopause can be uncomfortable, they are often a sign of a deeper issue. 

An integrative approach means getting to the root of your health concerns rather than masking symptoms. Together we can help you find relief and bring you back to a place of balance!

What is menopause?

Menopause is defined as the absence of a menstrual cycle for at least a year. Although, like puberty, menopause doesn’t occur overnight. 

Perimenopause is the time frame when your periods start to become irregular before stopping completely. You may begin to experience some of the symptoms associated with menopause as your hormones change during this time. 

Postmenopause is the time after you reach menopause when your period has stopped completely. 

Common Symptoms of menopause 

1. Frequent Urination 

Estrogen plays a role in supporting the sides of your bladder. Since estrogen is low during menopause, you might experience more frequent urination. 

When estrogen declines, structures around the pelvis region that support the bladder weaken. This explains why women in menopause experience difficulty controlling their bladders from the urgent urge to pee. 

What to do: 

  • Avoid drinking fluids before bed,
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and acidic foods
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises 

2. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats 

Hot flashes are quick bursts of hot skin and sweating that last a few seconds to a few minutes. These can cause fatigue and irritability, ultimately disrupting your sleep. Hot flashes are caused by the rapidly changing hormones that accompany menopause.

What to do:

  • Wear natural fibers rather than synthetic materials 
  • Use cold water or peppermint essential oil to cool the back of your neck 
  • Avoid triggers, such as coffee and red wine
  • Use herbal medicine and supplementation for hormone balancing. 

3. Fatigue

When your hormones change, it can affect your mental and physical health, sometimes leading to low energy and fatigue. 

What to do:

  • Stay active even if it means a 20-minute walk
  • Get plenty of rest; aim for at least 7 hours
  • Reduce stress with meditation, yoga, stretching, look for humor in your day
  • Lower the temperature if the warmth is lulling you to sleep

4. Vaginal Dryness

The walls of the vagina typically have a thin layer of moisture on them. This helps sperm survive and travel and reduces friction during sexual intercourse. 

During menopause, estrogen levels decline, leading to vaginal dryness. This can cause irritation, itching, burning, lowered sex drive, bleeding after sex, and make you more susceptible to urinary tract infections. 

What to do: 

  • Try yoni steaming – Postmenopausal Blend: The postmenopausal blend is made with herbs that enhance circulation and nourish and moisturize the vaginal canal.
  • Use vaginal lubricant during intercourse.
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises
  • See options for vaginal suppositories in the Protocol link for Menopause support.

5. Changes in vaginal discharge 

Although not many like to talk about it, vaginal discharge is a normal part of a woman’s life. It helps with lubrication and helps to fight infection. As you age, your skin thins, and your hormones change. This can sometimes lead to abnormal discharge. 

Normal vaginal discharge :

  • Clear or milky in color
  • It has a subtle scent that isn’t unpleasant

ABNormal vaginal discharge :

• Thick white discharge, with the consistency of cottage cheese: A sign of a yeast infection 

• Grayish discharge: A sign of a bacterial infection 

• Green/yellow discharge: A possible symptom of desquamative inflammatory vaginitis, vaginal atrophy, or trichomoniasis 

• Pink or brown (bloody) discharge: If you’re no longer having a period, this could be a sign of abnormality of the uterus. 

• Dry with no discharge: This can happen with vaginal atrophy and/or lower than normal hormone levels typical of menopause.

What to do: 

  • Wear loose, cotton underwear.
  • Use a pantry liner to keep the area dry.
  • Wash the area with plain water. Avoid soap and products with fragrance or harsh chemicals.
  • Wash your underwear in gentle, natural laundry detergent.
  • Take a probiotic and eat probiotic-rich foods to prevent bacterial and yeast infections. 
  • Reach out for a consultation to review lifestyle modifications, lab testing, herbal medicine, and supplementation options (link to book consult). 

Supporting your body during menopause 

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture encourages the body’s natural healing process, promoting physical and mental wellbeing. 

Acupuncture involves inserting extremely fine needles into the skin at specific locations, called acupoints, stimulating the central nervous system. This releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes can stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal and promote overall wellbeing. 

Acupuncture can help with many of the symptoms associated with menopause. It can help ease your symptoms on the surface but works much deeper to restore the body’s energy balance, offering relief from your symptoms and improving your overall health and wellbeing. 

Vaginal (Yoni) Steaming

Yoni steaming is an intimate, therapeutic self-care practice that starts at the root. 

During a yoni steam, you will relax over a bowl of steaming herbal-infused tea and rest. In contrast, the medicinal steam encourages healthy circulation, warmth, and rejuvenations in the entire pelvic region. Yoni steams can help correct vaginal imbalances, healing vaginal tissue, and soothe stress. 

We offer a custom yoni steam at our clinic, specifically for menopausal women. Our Postmenopausal blend is made with herbs that enhance circulation and nourish and moisturize the vaginal canal. 

Herbal Counseling

Herbal formulas and supplements can offer targeted support in your healing journey. 

I have put together a Menopause Protocol with my top recommended supplements in the Virtual Pharmacy; visit and purchase your protocol here: 

I also offer herbal consults and complete functional medicine health assessments to go over your health concerns during the session and provide customized herbal and supplement prescriptions. 

I will also offer dietary and lifestyle recommendations to help you receive the best results with the herbs and supplements given. 

Did you know that research shows that Chinese herbal medicine (.”with herbs such as Dang Gui, Black Cohosh, used in a formula fitting your needs) is very effective for balancing hormones. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951187/) Working together with me will ensure that you receive a custom formula prescription for your unique needs and symptoms. 

Working with Shelly 

With an integrative approach to menopause, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. When working with me, I utilize functional medicine to identify and address the root cause of your health concerns, viewing the body as one integrated system. 

We will look at your diet, nutrition, and exposure to environmental toxins, as they can play a central role in your health and hormones. 

I will evaluate your lab results, comprehensive medical history, lifestyle, and environmental factors, in conjunction with Chinese Medicine to help better understand your unique health needs, deficiencies, and imbalances. From there, we will find the ideal healing modalities to offer the solutions you need to feel and function your best in every stage of life. 

If you’re looking for support as you navigate the changes that come with menopause, schedule an appointment today. My goal is to help educate and empower you to find healing from within and live with balance!

About Shelly Tompkins

Shelly Tompkins, L.Ac, C.F.M.P is a renowned women’s health, fertility & wellness expert and licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and functional medicine practitioner in private practice in San Diego, CA. She has extensive training and experience and has been in private practice for over 33 years and also taught at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for 24 of those years. Shelly has worked with thousands of women, from puberty through senior years, to find answers and solutions to their overall health and hormone imbalances and more.

Her practice includes the use of laboratory testing to be able to find the answers to many of the health issues experienced in women and men. Through these labs, health history, and other tests, the assessments not only give answers, but ways to treat the body as a whole, so it works in its best capacity for healing.

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