One of the most common topics we see people in the clinic for is reproductive health. For most women, the focus is generally around preventing PMS and promoting healthy menstruation. After all, who wants this monthly event to be uncomfortable?
These days acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are widely accepted as effective tools for supporting a healthier, more pleasant menstrual cycle, just as they have been in some parts of the world for centuries.
Ailments such as PMS, irregular or heavy periods, and excessive cramping can be seen as signs that the body is, in some way, out of balance. These ancient techniques can help work to bring the body back into balance and in turn restore a natural, healthy menstrual rhythm.
Some of the ailments we work to address through these methods include:
- Mood swings
- Lower abdominal pain
- Fibroid cysts
PMS can involve physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, and is unique to each individual. Physical symptoms can include headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, food cravings, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, altered libido, skin blemishes, and digestive imbalances. Mental symptoms can include brain fog, trouble concentrating, and insomnia, while emotional symptoms can include mood swings involving anxiety, depression, irritability, and overwhelm.
Again, the experience is unique for everyone. If you experience a handful of these symptoms, they may be categorized as PMS. We work with you to individualize your treatment to your specific concerns and desired outcomes.
3 Tools for Menstrual Health:
1. Finding Flow for Your Flow
As we look at it in TCM, premenstrual syndrome is most commonly attributed to poor flow of blood through the liver and poor flow of qi (vital energy) through the body during menstruation. If these are moving at a slower pace than is ideal, it can manifest as heavy or painful periods, constipation, and emotional symptoms such as irritability.
Acupuncture and TCM can stimulate better circulation through the hepatic artery, a short blood vessel that supplies 70% of oxygenated blood to the liver, aiming to activate these energetic gateways and remove blockages to rejuvenate the flow of blood and qi in the body’s meridians.
2. Turning the Heat Up
Many menstrual complaints are also attributed to yang deficiency during the cycle, causing the functioning of the pelvic area to become colder, leading to the stagnation of blood and qi that can manifest as abdominal cramps and trouble staying warm.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, particular herbs can be recommended to stimulate warmth and movement, and we can advise you on which foods to emphasize and which to find alternatives for during your cycle, specific to your unique set of symptoms. As yang deficiency is considered a colder condition, many of these foods and herbs are warming. Acupuncture can also be used to stimulate more yang, warmth, and movement.
As Sally Gao from Culture Trip notes, there are also lifestyle tricks you can try between sessions, such as keeping your belly warm with a hot water bottle, opting for warm socks rather than barefeet, and bundling up in colder weather.
3. Getting in Harmony
Many menstrual imbalances are related to a disharmony of yin and yang, as we touch on above.
When it comes to acupuncture, there are particular vessels in the body we may bring focus to in order to help address menstrual imbalances, in an effort to bring your body and your cycle back into harmony. These vessels, as Thomson Chinese Medicine notes, can include:
- The Conception Vessel: Also known as the “Sea of Yin,” often stimulated to treat menstrual irregularities.
- The Governing Vessel: The most yang of the body’s meridians, it can be stimulated with the conception vessel to support yin yang harmony in the body.
- The Penetrating Vessel: Also known as the “Sea of Blood,” this meridian can be stimulated to address reproductive, digestive, and respiratory systems.
- Girdle Vessel: Also called the “belt,” this is the only horizontal vessel. It binds all vertical meridians and can be used to resolve both reproductive and muscular issues.
The above methods can also be used to treat fibroid cysts and endometriosis, conditions that should be discussed with your practitioner.
If you are interested in exploring the use of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to support a healthy, more comfortable menstrual cycle, schedule an appointment today.
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