Irregular Menstrual Cycles in Chinese Medicine
Irregular Menstrual Periods
There are many types of irregularities that can occur during the menstrual cycle and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differentiates them in order to create effective treatment strategies. A normal period would occur approximately every 28 days and last 3-5 days. Emotional stress is often part of the causes of all of these menstrual problems. Additionally, other disease patterns will include aspects of irregular periods such as PCOS, endometriosis, PMS, and uterine fibroids.
Heavy Periods in Chinese Medicine
Women often experience abnormally heavy periods are hemorrhaging during menopause, but flooding menstruation can happen throughout the reproductive years. There are three main causes of heavy bleeding during menstruation according to TCM and more than one cause can be responsible:
- Blood Stagnation - It sounds counter-intuitive that stagnation could cause heavy bleeding; it would seem as if stagnation would stop the flow of Blood; however, Blood and Qi must flow freely throughout the body to maintain good health. Symptoms may include sharp abdominal pain, blood clots, and pain that is intensified with pressure to the abdomen.
- Spleen Qi Deficiency - One of the many functional jobs of the Spleen energetic organ system is to contain the Blood. Flooding due to Qi Deficiency would be marked by fatigue and other symptoms of Spleen Qi imbalances.
- Blood Heat - Ongoing Liver Qi Stagnation can result in Blood Heat and Reckless Blood according to TCM. Symptoms would include irritability, restlessness, or headaches.
Hemorrhaging during menstruation can vary in severity and can result in Blood Deficiency or Anemia; always consult with your local health care provider if you are experiencing heavy bleeding.
Long Periods in Chinese Medicine
Periods that last longer than normal (6-10 days) do not necessarily have heavy bleeding and can be caused by two main imbalances:
- Liver Qi Stagnation – The Liver energetic organ system (TCM) stores and manages menstrual Blood. Ongoing stress in woman’s life can create Liver Qi and Liver Blood Stagnation with symptoms of dark blood clots, frustration, headaches, or depression. Consider Free and Easy Wanderer formula.
- Kidney Yin Deficiency – Long periods of scanty bleeding with indications of night or afternoon sweats, feeling of fever, or hot flashes are most common in peri-menopausal women.
Bleeding Between Periods in Chinese Medicine
This bleeding would occur mid-cycle near ovulation and is often associated with causes of infertility. The causes can include Kidney Yin Deficiency or Blood Stasis as described above, but is generally considered a Yin Yang imbalance in TCM; if a woman is Yang Deficient, she will not have the motivational force necessary to ovulate.
Scanty Short Periods in Chinese Medicine
This would refer to very light bleeding and can include elements of early periods or short cycles. Blood Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency, or Spleen Qi Deficiency with Internal Dampness can all contribute to short periods and scanty bleeding in TCM. "Qi not controlling the Blood" is a common diagnosis, and is often due to Spleen Qi Deficiency.
Late Periods in Chinese Medicine
Cycles longer than 30 days can be due to exhaustion form overwork or chronic bleeding, but a more common cause in Chinese medicine is internal Cold-Damp conditions from Spleen Qi Deficiency which can develops by eating too many raw foods, poor dietary habits, or environmental exposure to damp conditions over an extended period of time.
Amenorrhea no Periods in Chinese Medicine
Pregnancy is the most common cause of cessation of the menstrual cycle, but it can also be caused by the onset of menopause, over exercising, breast feeding, birth control medicines, certain pharmaceuticals, diabetes, IBS, or having many pregnancies close together. In Chinese medicine, causes can include Blood Deficiency, Spleen Qi Deficiency, Yin Deficiency, or Yang Deficiency.