IRREGULAR MENSTRUAL CYCLES

              A woman's menstrual cycle is part of the normal programming of a healthy body that is hard wired into her genetic makeup. If a woman is in balance">

                        IRREGULAR MENSTRUAL CYCLES

              A woman's menstrual cycle is part of the normal programming of a healthy body that is hard wired into her genetic makeup. If a woman is in balance, her cycles should start so that by fourteen years of age she can become pregnant. Beginning cycles might not be as regular or last as long. The Ren and Chong Meridians must open and then the flow of Qi and nutrients will start. The Tian Gui is the menstrual flow that stems from the nutrient passing up the Ren meridian to the Breasts where milk production occurs. The Milk moves down the Chong Meridian to the Uterus passing by the Small Intestine where the heat changes the white milk to red menstrual blood.    Once the meridians are mature and open this cycle takes every month. Then every lunar month, a menses (period bleeding) should occur.    The menses should be preceded by a fullness in the breasts that disappears as the period blood appears. There should not be cramping or bloating or PMS. The menses should last 4-7 days. The bleeding should not be so heavy that hemorrhage is feared. These cycles should continue on a regular basis every 28 days until interrupted by pregnancy or nursing until around the age of 44 to 49 when the cycles may start to change because of impending cessation of cycles called menopause. Menopause is defined by the absence of cycles for 1 year.

    But sometimes the menstrual cycle does not come on a regular basis or bleeding is excessive or scant. Alterations in the menstrual cycle indicate that the woman's body is out of balance. Interruptions or blockage of the normal flow of Tian Gui can result in excessive milk remaining in the Breast, or entering the Blood, Heart or Lungs. Traditional Chinese Medical Theory believes that improper flow of Tian Gui can result in Breast masses, Lupus, Leukemia or Lung Cancer. So it is vital to ensure proper flow of the Tian Gui and normal menstrual cycles in women. Discussion of the all the possible irregularities of the menstrual cycle is beyond the scope of our treatment here. If you have a menstrual cycle problem not mentioned here and would like to know more, please contact us. However we can discuss some of the more common menstrual cycle problems.

    • IRREGULAR CYCLES. These are defined as menses that does not appear every 28 days. (27-30 day cycles are not abnormal). The Traditional Chinese Medical Theory believes that cycles that start normal but become shorter (menses starts a week early) indicates either excessive Heat in the Blood or Qi Deficiency. Cycles that become longer apart (week late or becoming as much as 45 days apart) indicate Cold in the Blood, Blood deficiency or Qi Stagnation. Cycles that have no consistency, late one month early the next may be due to Qi Stagnation in the Liver or Kidney Deficiency.
    1. Heat in the Blood. Generally the woman with shorter cycles due to Heat would demonstrate other heat signs such as dark scanty urine, dark red blood which is thick and profuse. We would also expect the woman to experience other heat signs such as fullness in the chest area and thirst. Heat in the Blood can arise from many different causes such as Internal Heat conditions from over indulgence in spicy foods or overdose of warming drugs or herbs.
    2. Qi Deficiency. A woman suffering from shorter cycles because of a Qi Deficiency would have a profuse, thin and light red menses. She would also be generally tired with some shortness of breath and maybe palpitations of the heart. Qi can be depleted from over exertion and improper diet, which affects the Spleen. Spleen normally is able to control blood, but if Spleen Qi is deficient, the Spleen is no longer able to control blood and bleeding occurs.
    3. Cold in the Blood. A woman suffering from cycles that become longer and longer apart with scanty dark colored blood may be suffering from cold in the blood. Generally she will also experience abdominal pain which feels better with a heating pad. She would also probably suffer from cold feet and hands. This usually comes from internal invasion of cold, or overeating cold, raw foods or exposure to cold during a period.
    4. Blood Deficiency. A woman suffering from cycles that become longer and longer apart with scanty light red blood may be suffering from Blood Deficiency. She might also have dizziness, blurred vision and an empty feeling in her abdomen. Blood deficiency can occur from chronic disease, multiple pregnancies in a short time frame. A woman that follows an irregular diet with improper exercise, mainly overexertion, can damage the Spleen and Stomach and cause a decrease in Blood.
    5. Qi Stagnation. Delayed cycles or irregular cycles with scanty dark red blood may be caused by Qi Stagnation. Generally the woman will also have mood alterations, usually depression along with distension or pain under the ribs, and pressure in the chest relieved by belching. Qi Stagnation occurs in the Liver and is usually caused by emotional upheaval that produces anger or depression. If Qi stagnates, blood will not flow, delaying the cycle.
    6. Kidney Deficiency. Irregular cycles with scanty light red blood can indicate a deficiency of the Kidney. The woman might also experience dizziness and ringing in the ears. Her lower back might be sore and her knees weak. Usually she will have to get up frequently at night to urinate. Starting to have sexual relations at an early age is one way to harm the Kidney. Use of alcohol during sexual activity is another way to damage the Kidneys. We are born with a certain amount of innate essence. We can actually use it up too fast and begin to age sooner than expected. If the Kidney essence is used up or the Kidney becomes weakened, Tian Gui will not be conducted through the Ren and Chong meridians and normal menstrual cycles will not occur.

                                           HOW TO GET BACK INTO BALANCE AND STAY THERE

          If you suffer from irregular menstrual cycles it is important for your Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner to determine which type of syndrome is the cause . As you can see, there can be different causes of irregular cycles. Generally, acupuncture treatments and herbal formulas can adjust an irregular cycle. Sometimes, herbal formulas will need to be taken for a couple of months to assure that normal cycling has returned. More important it is necessary for a woman to understand what to do in order not to get back out of balance and return to irregular cycles once her balance has been restored. Here are some important tips to remember regarding the menstrual cycle:

      1. Do not drink cold drinks during your menstrual cycle. Most Americans love cold drinks. We put ice into everything. If you cannot drink hot drinks during your cycle, drink your drinks without ice.
      2. Do not eat cold foods during your menstrual cycle. Cold foods include what we think of as cold, ice cream, slurpees, snow cones and it also includes foods that have a cold nature. These foods are generally raw fruits, fruit juices, raw vegetables. If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, make sure they are cooked and that you balance them with hot soups and teas.
      3. Do not immerse yourself in cold water during your period. Don't swim or walk in cold rain. This is another way for Cold to invade your Uterus during your period. Some Chinese practitioners caution against bathing at all during your menstrual cycle, because your body is open during this time and prone to invasion of pathogens.
      4. Do not over exert yourself during your period. Tone down your exercise program during this time so not to over burden your kidneys. Especially don't work up a sweat and cool down too rapidly. This is a good way to drive pathogens deep inside your body and cause problems with your periods for years to come.
      5. Do eat sensibly and regularly. Improper amounts of food at irregular times can damage the spleen. This can lead to period problems.
      6. Do exercises that will help to alleviate stress and negative emotions. These two things can lead to Liver Qi Stagnation and period problems. Tai Qi, Qi Gong, mediation, yoga are some of the ways we can help our bodies adjust to the stresses of modern life.
      7. Moderation of sexual activity will aid the body in conserving Jing Essence. Women are less susceptible to Essence depletion than Men, but women can overdo sexual activity and deplete the Kidney essence. Ancient Chinese Scholars caution against early sexual activity and sexual activity while intoxicated. Jing Essence is depleted faster during these times.

         If you have any questions or would like more information regarding your period, you can contact us or any Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner.

                                     02/07/01      Suzan Hathaway

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