At some stage in their lives, most women will experience an abnormal menstrual cycle. This includes irregular periods or missed periods. For the average woman, it might not raise any red flags if it happens once or twice. But if an abnormal menstrual cycle occurs on a regular basis, it should be a cause for concern. Irregular menstruation can affect a woman’s daily life and make it difficult to conceive.
The treatment options for irregular menstruation varies depending on the diagnosis, its severity, the patient’s health history, treatment options, and the general recommendation of a health care professional. While common treatments for menstrual disorders range from over-the-counter medications to surgery, with a variety of options in between, many people also opt for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to help with menstruation problems or to support the typical treatment from western doctors. Today we’ll be discussing how acupuncture can benefit women who are experiencing menstrual problems.
What is a normal menstruation cycle?
A normal menstruation cycle is usually around 21-35 days after a woman’s last period. Most women have their period around 25-28 days with genetics, age, overall health, and lifestyle choices all affecting this timeframe. On average, a woman’s period lasts for about five to seven days. Your normal menstruation cycle may be different for someone else. For example, you might expect your period every 24 days while your friends are at 28 or 30-day cycles. If your period fluctuates before or after 24 days, you may have an irregular menstrual cycle.
Most women go through their monthly periods with little to no concerns. Their periods arrive like clockwork that starts and stops at roughly the same time each month. However, some women experience a lot of physical and/or emotional symptoms just before and during their menstruation. Some of the symptoms of irregular periods are heavy bleeding, consistent mood swings, lack of energy, and even missed periods. All of these can hamper a woman’s quality of life on a daily basis and can lead to other serious health conditions like uterine fibroid, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and endometriosis.
Your menstrual cycle is a good indicator of how well your body is functioning and if there are any underlying conditions that need immediate attention. In general, women with irregular periods may experience just one of these conditions:
- Unpredictable changes between period dates each month.
- The amount of blood in each period shifting from light to heavy or vice versa.
- Days of bleeding vary significantly.
The symptoms of menstrual disorders may include:
- Excessive pain or cramping.
- Anxiety / depression.
- Emotional distress.
- Headaches ranging from light to severe.
Why you should be concerned about irregular periods
Irregular periods are a sign that your body’s not functioning properly. This means that you may have an underlying medical problem or that your hormones are imbalanced. Certain lifestyle factors can also affect your body in a way that changes your period.
Treating irregular menstruation is crucial because it has such a huge impact on both a woman’s current and future fertility. Some of the underlying problems that contribute to irregular periods can also affect ovulation, egg quality, hormone production, and the formation and quality of the uterine lining. If there are imbalances in any of these areas, it can affect a woman’s chances of conceiving. Irregular periods can make it difficult to pinpoint ovulation. Since the fertile window usually lasts for less than a week, failing to predict when ovulation will occur reduces the chances of conception in any given cycle.
Pinpointing the cause of an abnormal menstrual cycle can be quite challenging, and the cause may differ from each woman. Changes in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, thyroid, and ovaries can all affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. Even emotions, diet and life style can have an impact on your period. If you’re experiencing irregular menstruation and are unsure about why it’s happening, it’s best to contact your GP or see a gynecologist for a more thorough investigation.
How Acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine can help
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient form of health care that originates from China and dates back thousands of years. According to TCM, good health is based on the restoration and maintenance of harmony and balance in the body. The human body has the ability to heal itself. So the focus of TCM is to restore the body’s natural functions and promote a good flow of qi (energy) inside the body. Traditional Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach to health to understand body’s function and disease processes and focuses on both treatment and prevention of illness.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and is used to provide relief from a wide range of symptoms. Acupuncture is performed by inserting thin, sterile needles at different acupuncture points (called meridians) in the body. The goal is to rebalance your body so its energy flow can circulate freely and harmoniously. In this way acupuncture can help activate the body’s natural healing mechanisms and facilitate recovery by improving bodily functions.
Acupuncture treatment is frequently used to help with irregular menstruation symptoms, reduce stress, and improve blood flow to the pelvic area and uterine lining. According to TCM, acupuncture may help with the symptoms of irregular periods in the follwing three ways:
- Improve blood circulation – Acupuncture can help activate the energy gateways to remove qi blockages in the body’s meridians. Improved blood circulation can help the balance between ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’, and hence help regulate a woman’s period.
- Strengthen body and promote robustness – Acupuncture can help strengthen energy levels and promote robustness by enhancing the ability of the human body’s natural ability to heal itself.
- Regulate yin yang harmony – Acupuncture helps restore Yin Yang harmony inside the body while also regulating the flow of energy. From the TCM’s point of view, where there is Yin Yang harmony, good health will follow.
The benefits of acupuncture are further amplified when combined with herbal therapy. Traditional Chinese medicine also uses herbs and herbal medicines to help with a number of different symptoms, including those associated with menstruation. Herbal medicine aims to replenish the body of its natural deficiencies and fortify the body’s endocrine, metabolic, and immune systems.
For centuries, acupuncture and herbal therapy have been used in China to treat women’s menstrual disorders. While modern research has yet to fully support its efficacies, these alternative forms of medicine can be beneficial when paired with modern forms of treatment.
Diet and lifestyle
Scientific literature has proven time and again that a woman’s diet and lifestyle play an important role in normalising their menstrual cycle. Sometimes a change in your lifestyle, such as managing stress you may be experiencing, exercising more gently or eating a healthful diet may be all that’s needed to restore your normal menstrual cycle.
Stress can be a factor to consider when a woman is having irregular periods. Making lifestyle changes to reduce stress can help regulate periods. Meditation is also an effective stress management therapy that helps reduce uncontrolled mood swings.
Overweight can impact hormone and insulin levels which can then affect your menstrual cycle. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage your weight.
Getting enough vitamin D may also support a healthy menstrual cycle. Eating turmeric or pineapple and drinking apple cider vinegar can be other possible home remedies. People with irregular menstruation should also abstain from cold food and drinks, exercise regularly and sleep early to maintain menstrual wellness. Getting enough sleep (about 7-8 hours) is crucial in helping the body recover. Sufficient rest allows your body to heal during a menstrual cycle and restore hormonal imbalances. Don’t disrupt your body’s natural cycles. Your lifestyle habits will have a huge impact on your menstrual cycle so make sure to look after your body, reduce sources of stress, and get enough sleep to minimise the risk of menstrual disorders.
Combining modern treatments with acupuncture therapy can go a long way towards helping women normalise their periods. Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for years and many Western countries are starting to adapt this alternative form of medicine. If you’re looking to minimise symptoms associated with irregular menstrual cycles, consider having acupuncture treatment. You’ll notice a significant improvement in terms of your overall health and well-being with this holistic treatment method.
At Baolin Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre we use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines to help with irregular menstruation and related gynecologic problems. For more information regarding acupuncture for irregular menstruation please contact us at our Perth or Subiaco clinic (Perth Clinic: 9228 8828; Subiaco Clinic: 9380 4171). Alternatively, you can send us your queries through our online contact page.