“I’m rolling to your heartbeat,
I’m dancing in your blood,
I’m breathing in your water,
My mother and my god” *
The female constitution tends toward Yin, relative to the male Yang. When I consider the health of the female body, mind and soul, I think of blood, an aspect of Yin in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the TCM energetic paradigm, blood must be nourished, continually move, and when necessary, be replenished. Blood flows through the body like a river of life. The nature of this flow, its course, ebb, flow and volume must be vigilantly attended to, for well-being to be sustained.
Blood is the ground substance for vitality and, owing to the centrality of the menstrual cycle in women’s lives, its state holds great importance in female health. Blood and Qi function interdependently, so we don’t actually consider them as completely separate functional aspects. Qi motivates and moves blood in the vessels and blood nourishes qi. Yin and Yang are the overarching polarities within which everything is situated.
Therefore for the menstrual cycle to be functioning patently, a woman’s Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang must all operate in an harmonious collaboration. The cycle has phases, governed by hormonal shifts. These phases may at times, require fine-tuning. For example symptoms encountered in the premenstrual phase, might be identified in TCM as stemming from a stagnant Qi situation that benefits from acupuncture, which assists Qi and blood movement.
The period itself may be early, late, irregular, missed, light, heavy, painful etc. Such aberrations can be due to imbalances between Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang influences. These imbalances may be due to inappropriate diet, tiredness, fatigue, various types of stress, occupational pressures, hormone therapy, medications, psychological factors, poor sleep and so on.
So, harmonising qi, blood, Yin and Yang, to facilitate optimal menstrual cycle status, means balancing many factors. I have kept this article short and hopefully simple, but in reality, menstrual functions and regulation are a complex matter.
Acupuncture and TCM are an enormous advantage for women who seek menstrual regulation. If you wish to go deeper into your particular situation, feel free to contact Michael.
Meantime, here are some general health tips for women:
- Engage in some form of pursuit that feeds the inner life (yin): creative/artistic endeavours, immersion in nature, music, dance, study, yoga, meditation. Interestingly, some of my clients report that sewing, knitting and needlework are intensely meditative in effect.
- Keep warm, especially have warm feet (women are particularly vulnerable to ‘cold and damp invasion’ through the feet, which can lead to qi obstructions)
- Maintain healthy sleep patterns (see the article called ‘Getting the Sleep We Need’, on my site)
- Don’t overdo cold or raw foods and drinks in the diet (coldness induces contraction and creates stasis which can impede effective qi and therefore blood movement)
- Delegate an equitable share of domestic tasks to partner and/or offspring. The running of a household should be a collaborative one and gender equality starts in the home. Think of all the spare time you’ll have………for yourself.
Cochrane S, Smith CA, Possamai-Inesedy A, Bensoussan A: Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health.
Int Journal Womens Health. 2014 Mar 17;6:313-25. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S38969. eCollection 2014. Review.
Witt, C, Reinhold, T, , Brinkhaus, B., Roll S., Jena S and Willich S: Acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea: a randomized study on clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in usual care. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 198, Issue 2, Pages 166.e1-166.e8 (February 2008)
* Excerpt from ‘Ghosts’ by Bridgeman, Reader and Catto, from the compilation CD, ‘1 Giant Leap’.