Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Articles
Acupuncture for Your Menstruation (Period)
by Patricia Kowal, Licensed Acupuncturist in Noosa
Menstrual cycles are a key aspect of a women's development and maturation, and it is an area where I have seen various imbalances. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offers a natural alternative to the Western conventional method of treating women's issues. A Chinese medical intake regarding your menstrual cycle will involve many details and questions in order for me to get to know your body type, period history and menstrual tendencies. This article will discuss menstruation and how Chinese medicine strives to benefit your experience of having your monthly period.
Common Menstrual Problems
There are many reasons why women's periods can become irregular and out of balance. Some women have pain before, during or after their menstrual bleeding, irregular timing of their cycle, minimal blood flow, heavy blood flow, light blood flow, and others may not have a period at all. There are many ways Chinese medicine may be able to assist you with the health of your period. Each woman presents with a different set of symptoms and concerns and therefore each woman receives a different acupuncture treatment based on their body type and current health.
Common menstrual problems:
Amenorrhea (not getting a period)
Dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
Irregular periods (early period, late period, irregular periods)
Ovulatory problems (early ovulation, late ovulation, no ovulation)
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Premenstrual Tension, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMT, PMS)
Spotting (before, during or after your period)
The Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle
Each women's experience with their period is unique. One common denominator, however, is the phases of their cycles, the ways in the which the body attempts to create your period to arrive every month. There are many reasons why these phases can become off balance and not timed properly in the body. When that happens we may have different problems occur that can affect your mood, cause pain, cause hormonal imbalances among others. Just as conventional medicine looks to the period as having phases, so too does Chinese medicine. Your acupuncture treatment will vary week to week depending on which phases of your cycle you are in:
- Phase 1: Bleeding Phase (begins on Day 1: the first day of a full blood flow)
- Phase 2: Post-Menstruation Phase (starts after your bleeding phase stops, approximately Day 4 or Day 5)
- Phase 3: Ovulation, Mid-Menstrual Cycle (Begins on Day 14 but can vary from Day 12 - Day 15 depending on your body)
- Phase 4: Pre-Menstrual Phase (Starts approximately a week before your period begins, approximately Day 19-20, depending on your body)
Acupuncture for the Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle
Acupuncture treatment for Menstrual Phase 1: aims to encourage a healthy flow of blood in order for the lining of the uterus to be properly expelled. This way another healthy lining is encouraged to develop upon the next monthly period.
Acupuncture treatment for Menstrual Phase 2: this is an important phase as it can 'set the tone' for the rest of your menstrual cycle. Depending on your experience of your period, your treatment will aim at supporting the body's blood and energy after your bleeding stops in Phase 1.
Acupuncture treatment for Menstrual Phase 3: this phase in important in that the energetic part of your body and the moist, nurturing part of your body intersect to create a transition from the first half to the second half of your cycle (ovulation). Treatments are aimed at encouraging your body to make that transition into the next phase as smoothly as possible.
Acupuncture treatment for Menstrual Phase 4: treatments in this phase are targeting symptoms of PMT/PMS that you have. Treatments strive to increase your circulation with the goal to smooth out any sluggish circulation that often can occur before getting our periods.
How Acupuncture Aims to Affect Your Period
Traditional Chinese Medicine theory looks at patterns in the body and how to treat the whole person. Just as we nourish and feed plants and trees by watering their roots, so does acupuncture aim to treat you as a whole, from the roots up. In order for the branches to stay healthy, the roots must be as well. For your period, a thorough intake is performed to collect specific information about your body and your experience with menstruation. It is the job of the acupuncturist to not only take into consideration your body type, but also symptoms that are unique to you. Acupuncture aims at balance. If you have heavy bleeding, the aim will be to gradually lighten the volume of bleeding using a specific pattern of acupuncture points. If your cycles are irregular, acupuncture aims to regulate them by treating you at certain times depending on the phases of your period cycle. If you have pain during, before or after your period, acupuncture aims at achieving a reduction in pain by affecting your circulation through your lower abdomen and uterus area by choosing acupuncture points that have an affect on that area.
Acupuncture for Menstruation: A Natural Alternative to Conventional Medicines
Acupuncture is a natural and non-invasive alternative to conventional medical treatments such as surgical removal of reproductive organs, the use of synthetic hormones and birth control pills which may come with undesired side effects. Because everyone is unique, it makes sense to treat your body according to your unique features and characteristics. Acupuncture aims at addressing your symptoms in this way, holistically. This means that other symptoms that to you may seem unrelated to your period, may in fact be affecting your period from a Chinese medicine standpoint.
How Many Treatments are Needed to Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?
As always, every person is different given they have a different history of menstruation, different inherited traits from their parents, different lifestyle habits and environments. These play a part in how you experience your menses. If you have experienced many years of imbalance in your menstrual cycle, it may take four to six weeks to achieve the desired results. If you have just started having irregularity in aspects of your cycle, you may start to see changes more quickly.
Are you interested in addressing your periods naturally and would like some suggestion on how to help create balance in your menstrual cycle? Contact me today, I am happy to answer questions about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs may be able to help you in the regulating your menstrual cycle.
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> Patricia Kowal is an AHPRA Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbal Practitioner in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.
Disclaimer: Please follow up with your practitioner if you are unsure or are having questions about the information contained in this material.
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Bottom photo credit: Tony Fischer Flikr