Irregular Periods

For some women, their monthly period is like clock-work. For others, it is a guessing game; one month it is early, the next it is late. Not only can this be frustrating and leave women unprepared, it may also contribute to challenges with conception. A cycle is considered to be irregular when it is longer or shorter than a monthly cycle by more than seven days, for at least 3 cycles in a row.

Regular periods should arrive approximately every 28-30 days and consist of roughly 5 days of symptom-free bleeding. If a period is consistently early or late, or only brief bleeding (or lengthy bleeding) then we consider those as being separate issues in Chinese Medicine, so it is helpful for a woman to regularly track her periods to gain a clear idea of the pattern and symptoms.

Our Newcastle acupuncture clinic often addresses irregular periods and accompanying symptoms with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Here are some key points you should know about acupuncture for irregular periods:

Contributing Factors:

Some of the factors that may contribute to irregular periods are:

  • Increased emotional stress or chronic depression may cause periods to occur erratically.

  • Over-exercise, excessive weight loss, or excessive weight gain

  • Endocrine imbalances, such as thyroid disorders

  • Chronic disease

Chinese Medicine:

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, irregular periods are often see as a disharmony of Liver function, or a constitutional deficiency of the Kidneys. When irregular periods are complicated by other concerns, such as PMS, period pain, or infertility, we may consider other pathologies such as Blood Stasis, Dampness or Cold Invasion as other contributing TCM causes.

When we are diagnosing an irregular menstrual cycle, we typically ask some key questions to help determine your TCM diagnosis and acupuncture treatment plan, so if you are seeking acupuncture for irregular periods, please take some notes and bring them with you!

  1. Length of cycle (e.g. from day one of bleeding, to next day one of bleeding)

  2. Regularity of cycle (it is important to track your cycle for at least 3 months to observe any patterns)

  3. Duration of bleeding (e.g 5 days bleeding)

  4. Quality of blood: e.g. blood may be thick, or watery, dark red or pale red

  5. Amount of blood: this is best determined by the number and volume of the sanitary items (tampons or pad) you use in a day, to give a rough idea of volume.

  6. Accompanying symptoms: PMS, headachesloose stoolslower back painacne and other symptoms are common around the time of menses.

Treatment Protocols

Once we have determined our TCM diagnosis for your particular case, we select acupuncture points and often recommend Chinese Herbs to help regulate irregular periods. At Poke Acupuncture, we offer both pre-formulated herbal powders as well as stock a wide range of raw Chinese herbal medicine. This allows us to customize your raw herbal formula to suit your symptoms and we may adjust these herbs throughout your menstrual cycle, to target specific body functions. During the ovulation or pre-menstrual phases, your body is undergoing different mechanisms, and we may select particular herbs or acupuncture points to assist in specific regulation at these times.

Acupuncture for irregular periods is typically performed once or twice a week for 4 weeks, with a reevaluation of symptoms at the arrival of the next period. Herbal therapies may continue during this time and we will continue to assess regularity and improvement of accompanying symptoms over a frame of 3-4 months.

For questions or to book a free 15 minute consult, please contact us here.

 

Lani Stokes, 

Registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

 

References:

  1. You, Z., & Lyttleton, J. (2014). Gynecology in Chinese medicine. Beijing: Peoples Medical Publishing House.

  2. Maciocia, G., & Maciocia, G. (1998). Obstetrics and gynecology in Chinese medicine. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

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