Menopausal Symptoms Among Japanese Women: Cultural Nuances

Author

Keiko Amano, Chiba Prefectural Institute of Public, 666-2 Nitona-cho, Chuo-ku, 260-8715, Japan

Proceeding

1st International Conference & Exhibition on Women's Health & Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine

Date

23/8/2005

Keyword

menopausal symptoms, Japanese women, reproductive health, hot flash , sweating , mental irritability, Kampo

Abstract

From the Meiji Period (about 100 years ago) to the present, the common role associated with women has been to “give birth and raise children.” Therefore. The health policies for women were stated as “maternal and child health policies” through the Health Center Law enacted in 1938. Maternal health has been the mainstream of women’s policy in Japan ever since.  Women’s reproductive health and rights as well as the empowerment of women were recognized internationally after the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. “Women’s right to the enjoyment of the highest standard of health must be secured throughout the whole life cycle in equality with men.” Japan agreed to this international declaration. However, even through actions have been sought in improving all aspects of women’s health, domestic policies that would have succeeded in doing so have not been realized in the 10 years since then. Since Ms. Akiko Domoto was selected as Governor of Chiba Prefecture in 2001, she and I have been working on this issue for the people of Chiba and Japan. Women’s clinics and women’s counselling at health centres started. Their activities are based on Gender-specific Medicine and we focused our research on menopausal conditions of Japanese women. Hot flash (44%), Sweating (35.2%) and mental irritability (35.1%) are three big complaints. The characteristic patterns of disease in the elderly and menopausal women are difficult for Western medicine to cope with. Fortunately we have Kampo as most effective tool for those disorders, and Kampo will be in demand as a means of ameliorating subjective symptoms without serious adverse events. In our hospital we are prescribing Kampo for 80% and HRT for 14% of menopausal patients at women’s clinics. Although Japanese women prefer to be treated by Kampo than by HRT, HRT is superior to Kampo for relieving hot flash. Combined therapy where Kampo is used as the basic treatment and Western medicine applied as the phenomenal treatment is now common in Japan. With the appearance of extract preparations on the market, the storage, preparation, portability, and administration of Kampo became remarkably easy, encouraging its use. Kampo is a general term for the unique system of traditional medicine developed in Japan from Chinese origins. Present –day Kampo share some of the same vocabulary with modern Chinese medicine. However, they differ in many respects, including basic medical theory, diagnostic procedures and the types and application of frequently used formulas. Even when the same formula is used, the types of constituent raw herbs and their quantities are apt to differ, as well as the source of the individual raw herbs.