Menstrual Monday’s - TCM and the Menstrual Cycle
Updated: Jun 13
Hello everyone! I am starting a new series called menstrual Monday’s! Today we will be talking about Qi, Blood, Yin & Yang and their association with the menstrual cycle.
Did you know in a healthy body women are suppose to have their menstrual cycle every month free of pain? This concept may seem bizarre as many teenage and adult woman experience pain during their period (dysmenorrhea), or no period (amenorrhea) and consider it normal. In future posts I will discuss how birth control impacts the menstrual cycle as well as our overall health.
Most patients who seek TCM in regard to their menstrual cycle may have a Western medicinal diagnosis such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, PID or another Western disease category. Some people like to ask can TCM treat this Western Disease I have? The answer is as a TCM practitioner, we conduct a Chinese disease diagnosis and a patterns discrimination to treat each patient individually and accordingly.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the rise and fall of yin and yang are made of up four, seven day segments. Different physiological processes are taking place during these 4 stages. It is our job as a practitioner to understand these four segments of their menstrual cycle and how they relate to the blood, yin, yang and qi of the body and apply the right therapy at the appropriate times.
The cycle begins on day one of the period (i.e the first day you bleed). Since during this time the uterus is loosing blood, we focus on the free of flow of blood. If the blood cannot move freely there may be delayed menses, scanty menses, painful menses or blocked menses. During this phase we can use acupuncture points or herbs to promote this free flow of blood.
During the second week or about 7 days in the cycle, there should not be bleeding anymore and the blood needs to be supplemented to replenish yin and blood vacuity. Since blood and essence share the same source, we will focus on enriching yin to nourish and replenish the blood that we lost in the first phase of the cycle.
Around day 14 of the cycle the blood should be full and replenished. This is where yin is now transforming into yang. In modern TCM gynecology this transformation is related to ovulation and the rise in basal body temperature that follow ovulation. Therefore, in order for ovulation to occur, yin must transform into yang and the practitioner must focus on the invigorating and warming aspect of yang during this phase.
From day 21 to around day 28 (end of the cycle), the heart qi must move blood down to the uterus. Liver qi controls the coursing and discharge of qi, including the heart qi. If the liver qi is depressed, the qi may become stagnate and could lead to counterflow. Counter flow qi signs and symptoms include premenstrual pain and/or lower abdominal pain and distention. If the spleen qi is weak it may not be able to hold the blood in the uterus, which can lead to early menstruation or profuse menstruation. During premenstruation, there is a emphasis on the rectification and fortification or Qi.
This is a basic overlook of the Menstrual cycle from a TCM lens. In following posts I will be discussing herbal formulas for different patterns, different acupuncture points and current Western treatments for menstrual conditions.