Menstrual Cycle Issues & Acupuncture

So many people have problems with their menstrual cycles these days. Modern medications (especially the pill), modern stress... so much pressure been brought to bear against a regular, pain-free menstrual cycle. PMS has become a simple fact of life for many people, like the sun setting at night. Some have struggled with menstrual irregularities since their very first period.

Let's take a look at the menstrual cycle through the lens of Chinese medicine. To do this, we need to look at the liver.

In both western and Chinese medicine, it is understood that blood is stored in the liver. When we are active, blood travels from the liver to the muscles to provide power. When we are at rest, a significant quantity of our blood returns to the liver to be cleansed and re-energised. The state of our blood depends very heavily on the liver. It stands to reason, therefore, that menstrual problems signify some kind of malfunctioning in the liver.

In Chinese medicine, there are two major types of issues that can occur with the liver - what we call excess and deficiency. Both can affect the menstrual cycle in their own way.

When the liver is deficient, this means there is insufficient blood in the liver for optimal function. When blood is taken from the already-deficient liver to the uterus for menstruation this can tax the system severely. There may be extreme tiredness, diarrhoea and cramping. Ironically the period may be unusually heavy despite this systemic insufficiency of blood, adding further insult to injury.

Broadly speaking, liver excess equates to stagnation. Poorly circulating blood can stagnate in the liver and uterus, impeding free menstrual flow. This can result in particularly sharp abdominal pain, clotting, spotting, irritation, sore breasts and constipation. Both excess and deficiency can cause the period to come at irregular times in the month, or be too short or long in duration.

Proper differentiation of liver syndromes is critical when treating menstrual issues. Treatments for liver excess will aggravate cases of liver deficiency and vice versa. Unfortunately, this differentiation is not made with conventional treatments for menstrual issues, making these treatments mostly hit and miss.

The pill is a particularly common treatment for menstrual disharmony. However, long-term use of the pill often causes significant liver excess or deficiency states which are revealed only when consumption is discontinued. At this point a person may suddenly discover they have problems conceiving, or suffer from frequent miscarriages. The pill can mask energetic imbalances causing menstrual dysfunction, but these imbalances will only grow stronger while they are masked. The root cause, the excess or deficiency, must be corrected for long-term relief.

Japanese Acupuncture is purpose-built to address excess and deficiency states in the body. Using this toolkit, I have been able to provide relief to many people suffering from a range of menstrual issues.