Eileen Mannion, BSc Hons, PGDipAc, MACA, RBAF. 07773332553 or 01484 865886
What Is a “Normal” Menstrual Cycle?
OK, at school we were taught what a “normal” menstrual cycle is supposed to be like, right? A regular-as-clockwork 28 days, 5 day bleed. There’s not much detail about the colour, consistency or amount of bleed.
What they don’t really tell us is just how fragile and delicate the balance of hormones that control the cycle is and how easily that balance can be upset. When this balance of brain, adrenals and reproductive system is disrupted we can find our periods becoming, irregular, painful, heavy/light or even absent.
So, let’s start with what is considered in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to be a healthy period:
Every month your period gives an indication of your internal health and how factors such as your stress levels, nutrition, exercise are affecting it.
Increasing your knowledge aids your understanding and consequently improves your confidence and ability to take charge if necessary.
Being in touch with your cycle enables you to take note of any changes, to know when ovulation occurs and when your fertility window is.
Day 1 is classed as the first day of your period and is the considered the first day of the 29-day cycle. If an egg hasn’t been fertilised, the endometrium sheds from the body, and the pituitary begins making FSH and LH hormones.
This stimulates the ovaries to grow new follicles. This is our monthly reminder and is a reflection of our current internal health.
What information is this phase giving you? Has it changed in regularity, colour, flow, consistency or pain?
In TCM the focus is on invigorating the flow of Qi and Blood to ensure the lining can shed fully by stimulating blood flow to the pelvic cavity.
This time is often referred to as your fertile window. The single, dominant follicle will release an egg after a spike of lutenising hormone (LH)
This can be detected by ovulation kits or basal body temperature tracking but I don’t like these to be over-relied upon. Lots of things can affect your temperature, just turning over in bed for instance! A good indictor is an increase in the amount of “egg-white” cervical mucus.
This is when our peak of Yin begins its transformation into Yang, just after ovulation.
During this time one of your follicles becomes more dominant and begins to produce more and more oestrogen, thanks to the progressive increase of FSH. This causes the uterine lining to thicken and cervical fluid to increase.
Phase 2, is considered to be a Yin phase, which corresponds to the blood and tissue in the uterine lining. However, the growth of the dominant follicle is considered to be a Yang process.
After ovulation, the ruptured follicle (corpus luteum) begins to degenerate and secrete progesterone, further thickening your endometrial lining in the uterus providing a safe and comfortable home for implantation to occur. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube ready to be fertilised within 24 hours post ovulation.
If fertilisation does occur, your corpus luteum will begin to produce the pregnancy hormone, HCG. If fertilisation hasn’t occurred, the decaying will continue and the endometrium will break down and shed as a new menstrual cycle begins.
Acupuncture is an effective and proven treatment to help with many of the underlying conditions that could be affecting your periods.
I have worked with many clients who want to try and use natural techniques to try and acheive a healthy menstrual cycle, whether it be to reduce pain, reduce PMT symptoms or to start a fertility journey.
I am not anti-Western medicine by any means and there are many occasions when I recommend someone seek medical advice or tests. Often best results are achieved by combining the two systems.
My treatments usually incorporate a combination of acupuncture and nutrition, sometimes supplements and acupressure too. It all depends upon the individual.
If you’d like to find out more then you can schedule a free 15 minute consultation call.