Acupuncture has a long detailed history of treating women’s health problems. There are several ancient texts dedicated to this subject alone. Irregularities in menstruation are unfortunately very common these days, largely caused by emotional stress and over use of the contraceptive pill. The danger with falsely regulating menstruation is what can happen when you stop taking the medication. Often the period can take 9-12 months to return if at all, or the periods come back much worse. This is because the body has never had a chance to properly regulate itself. This is where Acupuncture can help. In western medicine this is all attributed to “hormonal imbalances”, which can also cause problems like acne and excessive hair growth. In Chinese medicine, these fall under disorders of the Kidney,Spleen and Liver organs primarily.
The menstrual cycle is a direct reflection of a woman’s overall health, if there are irregularities and problems, then her health is not at 100%. Which can slowly develop into other ailments later on in life. Its not just about having a monthly bleed, its about having a healthy fertility cycle, which reflects your inner health.
Pre Menstrual Tension and Digestive Issues
A lot of women suffer from a host of digestive problems or headaches leading up to their periods. This means there is a weakness in the digestion, and an imbalance in your Liver. The Liver stores the blood for menstruation, so when it is ready to release it, it is more prone for it energy to become excessive or blocked. This results in headaches, mood swings or pain and cramping. A digestion which is weak, cannot resist the Liver’s energy, and this causes, bloating, diarrhoea or even vomiting just to name a few symptoms. Acupuncture is used to settle the Liver and strengthen the digestion, so everything is back in balance and the PMT symptoms disappear.
Pain in Chinese Medicine means Qi and Blood are not flowing smoothly. The flow of Qi can be disrupted by many things: emotions (stress), poor lifestyle and diet or illness. A normal period should largely be pain free, there will often be cramping, but it shouldn’t be debilitating or require medication to manage it. There are often other associated symptoms such as headaches, bloating and bowels problems leading up to the period. This indicates an imbalance within the organs that is using the period as an outlet. A normal period bleed should last approx 5 days, it should be bright red blood and without clots. Any abnormalities such as dark blood or clots mean there is a problem with the lining which we need to rectify. Acupuncture can get to the root of the problems causing the menstrual pain, often it involves regulating the Liver Qi and improving the lining of the uterus which can help you achieve a more comfortable and healthier cycle. Acupuncture has been shown to ease period pain, and that the areas around the pain in the abdomen are actually cooler than the surrounding tissue. Which explains why a hot water bottle is often used for period pain.
Irregular Periods and Amenorrhoea
The menstrual cycle should be 28 days, give or take a few days. When a cycle drops below 24 days or over 33 days it is considered irregular. An irregular cycle won’t necessarily be painful when it does arrive, but it can make falling pregnant difficult as ovulation can become erratic. It also shows that the flow of Qi within the body is not smooth as the cycle length keeps changing. These can be caused by emotions or a build up of cold or heat in the body which can lengthen or shorten the cycle respectively. If a women has had poor diet, or become underweight as a teenager, it can lead to periods which are over 90 days apart, or the period stops flowing all together. This is a critical sign that she has become blood deficient, as her body doesn’t have enough surplus blood to have a flow. Often their nails and hair are brittle showing lack of Liver blood. I use Acupuncture to nourish this deficiency and build up the reservoir of blood to return the menstruation to normal.