Your menstrual cycle occurs as the result of a complex hormonal interaction involving your brain, ovaries, and adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands. If anything interferes with this delicate hormonal balance, you may experience irregular or absent periods. If you have irregular periods or your periods have stopped (amenorrhea), you should see your gynecologist or medical doctor for a more thorough investigation.
There are many possible causes of secondary amenorrhea and irregular periods, including:
Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese method of placing extra-thin needles at strategic energy points on your body to improve functioning and promote natural healing. Acupuncture is frequently used to help regulate menstrual cycles, reduce stress, and improve blood flow to the pelvic area and uterine lining.
Herbal therapy is an essential treatment modality for gynecological conditions (including infertility) in Chinese medicine, and provides an important compliment to acupuncture. While acupuncture stimulates the flow of Qi and blood, herbal formulas are designed to nourish and replenish deficiencies in the metabolic, endocrine, and immune systems.
Studies have shown that herbal formulas may
Chinese herbal formulas are safe and effective when prescribed by your Chinese medicine practitioner.
Most women have experienced menstrual cramps, or "dysmenorrhea," at one time or another. Menstrual cramps are dull, throbbing or cramping pains in the lower abdomen and are often experienced just before and during a period. For some women, it is merely an annoying discomfort but for others, it can be severe enough to interfere with everyday activities for a few days every month.
In many situations, there is no identifiable cause of dysmenorrhea. Many experts believe that constricted blood vessels during the period cause menstrual cramps, much in the way that angina occurs when blocked coronary arteries starve portions of the heart of food and oxygen. Most of the time painful menstruation is not considered a cause for concern and western medical treatment usually involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or hormonal birth control to manage the symptoms of dysmenorrhea.
In Chinese medicine, dysmenorrhea or painful periods are not considered a normal part of a woman's life but rather a sign of an imbalance, which can be treated effectively in order to resolve the symptoms. As with western medical theory, Chinese medicine sees a lack of flow of blood and qi-energy as the cause for menstrual cramps. Whereas western medicine sees menstrual cramps as all belonging to the same class of problem, Chinese medicine breaks it down into six different types, depending on the internal imbalance causing the symptoms. Factors that can contribute to dysmenorrhea include emotional strain, prolonged exposure to cold and dampness, overwork or chronic illness, and childbirth.
Acupuncture can be quite successful in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Treatments can help to relieve symptoms very quickly, however it typically takes at least 3 cycles to get the body back into balance and fully resolve the problem. A real positive of acupuncture is that it is working to promote health while also managing and resolving the symptom. It’s very common to see other areas of health improve, such as energy levels, sleep, moods and stress levels, and pre-menstrual symptoms. Indeed, acupuncture is an excellent option for treating and resolving menstrual cramps.
Each women’s cycle is unique. Some women barely noticed when their period comes and goes. For others, however, their period can be a monthly ordeal with mood swings, weight gain, painful cramps, and heavy bleeding. The range of symptoms that correspond with monthly cycles is called premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
In the West, these symptoms are often thought to be a normal part of the menstruation. In Chinese medicine, however, PMS is considered to be the result of an underlying imbalance or deficiency.
A healthy period according to Chinese medicine:
Is regular - every 26 to 31 days
Is free of cramps, bloating, breast tenderness and headache
Has adequate flow (neither scanty nor excessively heavy) that lasts for 3-5 days
Has bright red blood flow free of clots (in Chinese medicine, clots are a sign of stagnation)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the name of a group of symptoms that may begin up to 14 days before your menstrual period. The symptoms usually stop once your period begins. Symptoms may include:
Premenstrual dysphonic disorder is a more extreme version of PMS.
The most common explanation for PMS, from a Western point of view, is that it's an imbalance between your two main reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and/or a disruption in the feedback system that regulates your reproductive hormones. Researchers feel that that some women’s brain are more sensitive to these hormones and that PMS symptoms occur because your brain overreacts to progesterone and estrogen causing changes in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Estrogen and progesterone can alter:
Menopause doesn't have to be a dreaded curse of aging during which we can look forward only to hot flashes and whacked-out hormonal mood swings. Menopause often marks the beginning of a woman's most sexually passionate, creatively inspired, and professionally productive phase of life.
While this may sound like wishful thinking, examine how a woman's lifestyle, emotions, and beliefs are affected by menopause. With the right diet, attitude, and Oriental Medicine women can actually look forward to a resurgence of energy and a revolutionary opportunity for personal growth--one that rivals the hormonally driven period of adolescence.Menopause itself is not a disease.
Menopause is a transitional period marking the cessation of ovulation in a woman's body. This time of change may last a few months to several years. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and are brought on as our bodies try to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, vaginal dryness, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a 2,000 year old, professional medical system, and gynecology is one of it specialties. Within TCM gynecology, menopausal syndrome is a recognized and treatable condition. In fact, it is one of the conditions that are most easily and satisfactorily treated by TCM (as long as menopause is natural and not surgical).
According to Chinese Medical theory, menopause occurs when a woman's body begins to preserve blood and energy in order to sustain her vitality and allow for the maximum available nourishment for her body, especially her kidneys. The kidney is the organ Chinese Medicine sees as the root of life and longevity. Therefore, the body, in its wisdom, reserves the flow of a channel in the center of the body which sends blood and energy down to the uterus. Instead, blood and essence from the kidneys are conserved and cycled through the body to nourish the woman's spirit and extend her longevity. Thus, in Chinese medicine, menopause is seen as a true change in life from mother of biological children to mother of the community. This is why, in traditional cultures, post-menopausal women are regarded as wise women, since their heart spirit is now nourished and enlightened in a way it was not before. However, unfortunately, many women do not traverse this cusp quickly and smoothly. Rather, they get stuck in the middle of this change. When they do, they may experience any of a number of signs and symptoms.
Few areas of women's health stir up as much confusion and debate as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which is normally started when the first symptoms of menopause appear. While they may alleviate hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis, they will also increase the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, and have a number of significant side-effects. But HRT isn't the only solution. Menopause is an area in which Oriental Medicine shines. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have the ability to detect energetic changes that occur in the body and quickly relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, foggy mind, and irritability.
Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize menopause as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 women are treated with Oriental medicine for hot flashes, each of these 10 women will receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs and different lifestyle and diet recommendations.
Menopause patients are encouraged lose that extra weight and to follow a diet with a high content of raw foods, fruits and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar. Some foods may exacerbate hot flashes or increase mood swings. Steer clear of dairy products, red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, caffeine, and don't smoke. Lastly, try to eliminate stress, tension and anxiety or learn techniques to cope with stress so that you can diminish the effects that it has on your body and mind.