How To Regulate the Menstrual Cycle with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

May 23, 2016

I am fortunate to treat so many wonderful women in my practice. I love women. I love the complexity of their physiology and their emotions. I love men too, of course, they are just a different can of worms when it comes to treatment.

The first thing I, and most acupuncturists, do with any woman when they come in for anything related to their monthly cycle is to regulate the menstrual cycle with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicine is an umbrella term for someone versed in the practice of not just acupuncture but Herbal Medicine, Tui Na Massage, Cupping, Diet Therapy etc.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are excellent at treating imbalances related to women’s health

I have successfully treated:
• PMS
• Painful Periods
• Infertility
• Hot flashes, night sweats and other menopausal related symptoms
• Absence of period or Amenorrhea
• Spotting
• Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
• Irregular Periods
• Recurrent Yeast Infections

I am pretty sure I have such a natural flow in this area of women’s health because I myself have dealt with a number if concerns on this list. When I was first introduced to Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine I was a massive angry ball of stress. I was a 21-year-old single mom, going through a divorce and running my own full-time glass blowing business. I was sleeping maybe 5 hours a night between working late into the night while my daughter slept and then getting up with her at the crack of dawn. I was a nightmare and I kind of feel sorry for anyone who in my path at that time…mostly my daughter. How she turned out to be such a good person is truly beyond and likely in spite of me.

Anyway, my point is, when I went to see the acupuncturist one of my complaints was PMS and painful periods. During my initial consult with him I found out my Liver was in rough shape. This had nothing to do with drinking either. The Liver, like all organs according to Chinese Medicine, have an affinity towards certain emotions. Surprise Surprise the Liver’s emotion is anger and irritability. The Liver also stores blood and delivers some of that stored blood to the Uterus in the week before we menstruate. When the Liver isn’t flowing properly due to stress, either physical, mental and/or emotional, this function is impaired. This can lead to a host of symptoms such as:

• PMS
• Headache
• Depression
• Digestive upset and bloating
• Painful periods

I for sure had 4/5 of those. Maybe there was actually something to this stuff? As the weeks and months passed I kept going for acupuncture on a fairly regular basis. What I began to notice was that the week leading up to my period wasn’t so depressing. The highs and lows that had become normal to me leveled out and I no longer felt like I couldn’t cope with life. I also noticed that I wasn’t getting so outraged by my ex, this was no small feat, I hated him at this time of my life and we were terrible to each other. So to be able to disengage even slightly made the biggest difference and opened up some space for the relationship to actually shift into something different. This was nothing short of a miracle in my life.

When I started learning about the menstrual cycle and how Acupuncture, Herbs and Diet can regulate it, I took a natural interest because I could relate to most of what we were learning.

Here are basic bullet points of each phase of the menstrual cycle: (If you also want the western breakdown click here.)
1. Phase 1 – Phase one is the time of Menstrual Bleeding. In a healthy cycle this phase will last roughly 3-6 days. This is a guideline, don’t stress if yours is shorter or longer, it may be normal to you and other factors have to be taken into consideration. The focus clinically at this point is to encourage the movement of blood. We will usually work on moving Liver and Uterine Blood.

  • Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the first day you start menstruating, in a full flow.

2. Phase 2 – This is the phase where Yin fluids – mainly Blood – are being built. It is referred to as the follicular phase in Western Medicine and when estrogen increases. Clinically we nourish the Yin and Blood aspects of the Liver, Kidneys and an extra meridian called the Ren Vessel, it is the most Yin of all the Vessels and plays a major role in the regulation of all female disorders.

  • This phase will ideally last until day 14 of your cycle.

3. Phase 3 – Ovulation. This is the midway point in the cycle. It is when Yin wanes and turns into Yang as Yang waxes. It is when Estrogen drops, an egg is released and progesterone builds. Clinically it is under the main influence of the Heart – the Heart dictates timing in the body, and the timely release of the egg – and the Kidneys as the Kidneys house Yin and Yang.

  • Ideally Ovulation will occur between Day 12-16 of your cycle.

4. Phase 4 – This is the Phase of Yang Qi. Related to an increase in progesterone, which is warming to the body temperature. I usually treat this phase as 2 sub-phases:

  • Warming the Yang Qi directly after ovulation via the Kidneys and the Du meridian – this is the Most Yang meridian in the body.
    • This sub-phase lasts for around 10-12 days after ovulation.
  • Moving the Liver Qi and Liver Blood.
    • This sub-phase can be treated roughly 5 days prior to the period starting. Although for some women if symptoms begin earlier I will usually start them on a Liver herbal formula and have them come in for acupuncture one week before the period is due.

Hopefully that’s not too confusing. It’s really quite simple when you break it down. Yin builds and recedes and then turns into Yang which builds and then receded which turns into Yin and so on and so forth. This picture might help you visualize how the Yin Qi and The Yang Qi change throughout the month.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 11.02.12 AM

Here are 5 ways you can help regulate your menstrual cycle with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

1. Get Acupuncture – Acupuncture is one of the best things you can do to balance your bodies physiology. It has a particular affinity for the Liver and since the Liver plays such a major role in all parts of the menstrual cycle it makes sense that Acupuncture would have a profound effect on it’s regulation. To make an appointment click here.
2. Take Chinese Herbal Formulas – Substance makes Substance. The Blood is clearly a major part of the menstrual cycle and if your body is lacking in blood as so many women’s bodies are, the substance of Chinese Herbs helps to create the substance of blood. My only word of caution is to get them from your TCM practitioner AFTER you have been properly diagnosed. Herbal formulas – like acupuncture – restore normal physiology and taking the wrong formula can increase or mask an imbalance.
3. Seed Cycling – This is one of my favorite at home remedies for women wanting to regulate and nourish their cycle. Essentially in the first half of your cycle you grind 1TB of Flax and 1TB of Pumpkin seeds and consume daily. In the second half of your cycle grind 1TB Sesame seeds and 1 TB Sunflower seeds and consume daily. For more information on why and how you can check out Dr. Neuzil’s website here.
4. Exercise – Getting the Blood and Qi moving on a regular basis helps the Liver Qi and Blood move and also strengthens the Heart. As always, I recommend to work within your limits. I see so many women who are over exercising and it takes a serious toll on their Kidneys and Blood.
5. Eat in ways that nourish your Blood

  • Leafy Greens
  • Small amounts of meat
  • Avoid cold and raw foods

 

If you have any questions of comments about whether or not Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help regulate your menstrual cycle please feel free to call us at the office 236-420-4359 or email me directly at info@acupuncturekelowna.com

With love from Kelowna, BC,

Paula

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