Tag Archives: menstrual cycle

Duration & Frequency: G-Y-N Post #3


Apparently everyone does want to talk about periods. I am getting great feedback and lots of questions about what is healthy and what needs some work. I hope that you are feeling empowered either by knowing that you have a healthy cycle or that you too can improve your health.

 

Frequency

This is easy. The body loves to be between 28-30 days. But what is actually involved in that counting? Let’s do some math here. Say you begin bleeding on November 1st. That is day one. You experience a temperature rise on Day 14, ovulation day. And you bleed again on November 29th. That is a 28-day cycle. You don’t count the 29th for the month, because you will count it next month. You do count all days of bleeding.

Short Cycles

Anything below 26 days is too short and suggestive of too much heat in the system or an inability for the body to hold the period back at the end due to weakness. The first problem might be associated with heavy, fast bleeding that is bright red and maybe a little thick and smelly. The second might be associated with fatigue, pelvic floor prolapse, loose stools and a loss of appetite.

Long Cycles

Long cycles are anything over 35 days. From one month to the next you might have a stressful day on days 14 and 15 and the body doesn’t feel safe enough to ovulate. But when things settle down again it should get down to business. After 35 days we’ve got issues that need addressing. Long cycles range in the 35 days to months or years range. There can be numerous reasons for long cycles, but the big two are blood deficiency and stagnation. Blood deficiency is a common one and will show itself with very light periods, dizziness, fatigue, poor vision, feeling cold, and/or muscle cramps. Stagnation of blood and qi in the reproductive organs will usually have painful periods, big mood swings and dark, clotted periods, painful PMS.

Last week when we talked about Blood we discussed bleeding duration, so in this installment I want to talk about lifetime duration instead.

Numbers in Chinese Medicine

Average age of menarche (first period) 12-14

Average age of menopause (last period) 49-52

In Chinese Medicine women run on cycles of 7: at 7 you get adult teeth, at 14 you get your period, at 21 you become an adult, at 28 you have babies, at 35 you finish having babies, at 42 your career takes off (okay I made up that one), at 49 you start going through menopause.

Everything right close to that time frame is normal. What isn’t normal is peri-menopausal symptoms at 37 or 41 or 45. If they come on that early let’s get your body stronger and healthier and buy you a few more years.

Why postpone menopause if you can?

For everyone under the age of 20 the idea of early menopause sounds heavenly. To everyone over the age of 30 it sounds more daunting. What are the risks of going through menopause too early? Western Medicine will tell you early menopause increases your chances of heart disease and osteoporosis. Chinese Medicine will tell you that early menopause is proof enough that the body is already in distress and needs strengthening. You don’t have to deal with 15 years of hot flashes or night sweats and you don’t have to go on replacement hormones. There is another option.  Acupuncture and herbs are known for restarting periods after long spells, even after early menopause. The earlier you catch it the better. Bringing a period back 10 years after it disappeared is obviously harder than amenorrhea (no period) for 6 months.

Blood: G-Y-N Post #2


This is the point in the intake when most people get squeamish and acupuncturists start looking like vampires. Tell me about the blood. Truth be told you can’t tell us enough about the menstrual blood.

The Questions

Color: Bright red, fresh red, brick red, purple red, brownish, blackish, pinkish, purplish, red fading to brown. We want to know. Healthy blood should be fresh red, quite red, though as the cycle draws to a close it may become more brownish. Purplish blood is suggestive of cold or stasis in the uterus and very often goes hand in hand with pain. Same thing for blackish blood, which is blood that has been stuck in the uterus for a while. Watery pinkish blood is a suggestion of blood deficiency. It usually doesn’t have any abdominal pain associated with it but fatigue, low backache, or dizziness. Brownish blood is tough to diagnose it could be caused by a number of factors. Mostly it means things are a little dirty and sticky in the uterus and it needs cleansing.

Clotting: In school we were trained to use money, half dollar, quarter, nickel, dime. Exactly how big are the clots. The bigger they are the worse it is. Quarter size or larger clots are suggestive of either heat thickening the blood so it can’t flow smoothly or of cold congealing the blood so it doesn’t flow at all and it gets stuck in there. Clots can also be indicative of fibroids or cysts if they are accompanied with pain and irregular periods. A healthy flow doesn’t have anything other than fresh bright red blood.

Viscosity: Yes, we will occasionally ask how thick it is. Super thick blood (think honey or molasses) means heat is drying the blood up. Usually this also involves very heavy periods and sometimes the period coming early because the heat is so intense the body starts to bleed. Thin blood that looks watery is mostly water as the body doesn’t have enough blood. Normal blood flows like blood. It is thicker than water, but not syrupy.

Flow: Do you spot for a couple of days? Do you immediately gush? How often do you change a pad or tampon on the first day? The second? The third? The fourth? And so on. Normal is difficult to say here, but I’ll tell you what is too heavy and what is too light. A woman shouldn’t bleed through a tampon in less than an hour, numerous times during the first and second day. That is too heavy. A woman shouldn’t change a tampon every two hours through the fifth or sixth day. That is still too heavy. However if a woman is only changing a tampon four times a day on the first two days she doesn’t have enough blood. If the period includes spotting on the second or third day the woman doesn’t have enough blood. The first three days of bleeding should be consistent and more then spotting. The fourth or fifth may be light enough to go with just a liner or change a pad twice a day. That would be healthy.

Signs Your Cycle needs Strengthening or Cleansing

  • Big, numerous clots
  • Six or seven days of heavy flow
  • 14-day periods
  • Spotting lightly past day 7
  • One or two day periods
  • Hour long periods
  • Purple or black blood
  • Flow that stops for a day or two and then begins again

One of the strengths of Chinese Medicine is defining normal. I love that. Normal isn’t really relative to all women. Just because a woman can handle it for three or thirty years doesn’t mean she should have a 9 day period. It isn’t healthy.  Just because it is convenient doesn’t mean that a woman should have a 2-day period. Both are indicative of other issues in the body. Again, the menstrual cycle reveals other health issues in the body, not just the health of the reproductive organs.

Please feel free to post questions in the comment section. Please restrict your questions to PMS and blood as there is more yet to come.

Image credit: yupiramos / 123RF Stock Photo

PMS: G-Y-N Post #1

PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is just that, a syndrome. A compilation of ailments joined together because of similar circumstances. We all know the list:

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Weight Gain/Fluid Retention/Bloating
  • Emotional Disturbances/Irritability/Weepiness/Anger
  • Low Back Ache
  • Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nightsweats

What does it all mean and should we be having it at all?

What is normal?

Elimination: The body is ridding itself of blood and tissue. This is a significant drain on the body. It is normal for the body to start showing signs the day or two before. Drier stools or softer stools the day of or the day before may happen. These are still both signs that the body is a little warn down and can’t handle bleeding effortlessly, but they are a vast improvement over days of constipation or numerous bouts of diarrhea which lots of women experience.

Emotions: The night before bleeding weepiness or feelings of vulnerability are understandable and I believe evolutionary. We shouldn’t be lifting heavy objects, staying up all night studying or running marathons right before or during bleeding. All activity (mental or physical) should be gentle and allow for periods of rest. Listen and appreciate the body’s wisdom and take some quiet time or ask for more affection from a partner if necessary. These are little things that go a long way.

Sleep: Night hours, or yin time, is quieted by ample fluids within the body. When you bleed there are less fluids available and the sleep can be affected. Slightly lighter sleep or more dreams is understandable, full blown insomnia or disturbing nightmares are suggestive of a deficiency of fluids and would benefit from treatment.

Important PMS Questions

When does it start? PMS that starts hours before the cycle is significantly better than the PMS that starts at ovulation. Mood swings, weight gain or pain that begins anytime before the day before the cycle is not only treatable it is not worth the strain on your life. Western Medicine utilizes the birth control pill as the exclusive means for altering PMS, but the pill doesn’t solve the problems it masks the problems until you are ready to come off the pill. PMS that begins early in the month is a suggestion of stagnant blood in the uterus or stagnant qi within the reproductive organs. This could be caused by internal cold, internal heat, strong emotions not being properly released or simply stress.

What is the intensity? Again if someone is home sick from work before the period starts, we have an issue. Migraines, flash anger or brutal cramping before the blood is a serious sign that the body is out of balance. These are remarkably easy things to treat with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. Sometimes I think we should be marketing to bosses, partners or family members asking for sponsors for a woman’s treatment. Would you like to see her as an active member of the world more days of the month? There is actually research out there now suggesting that Sylvia Plath’s emotional disturbances may have been related to very painful periods and extreme emotional changes due to her cycle. This is not a part of a woman’s health that deserves covering up. High intensity PMS that even slightly affects your life (regardless of your ironwoman pain threshold) is dangerous. Start talking about it and start seeing it as a problem.

Does it immediately end when you start bleeding? This is the telltale sign practitioners are looking for as a marker of how easy a gyn issue is to treat. If it goes away as soon as the blood comes it is probably due to stagnant qi in the body and is the easiest scenario to treat. If this is you, come in for a couple of months of treatment and get on with your life. If things stay dicey after the bleeding starts there is a deeper level of stagnation and though it may take longer to heal, will still show steady improvements from month to month in overall intensity.

PMS Warning Signs

  • Your friends know all your PMS symptoms
  • PMS starts with ovulation or soon after
  • Your personality changes, not just your mood
  • You are in pain that requires more than one regular dose of NSAIDS at any point during the month

Charting Your Cycle

I started charting my cycle this spring and I’m loving it. Charting allows you to see where in the month you have less energy, when headaches begin or if you have a nightmare on the 27th day of the month. Things you wouldn’t be able to remember from month to month. Charting is also very helpful to see how you can affect the cycle. One thing I’ve noticed for me personally is if I get run down my basal temperatures drop and stay down until I take a day or rest. Now when I see the movement downward I know I have to be proactive about rest to help my cycle stay healthy. Charting is also a way to actually see how many days of the month you are miserable and act as a motivator to make change in the body.

In Chinese Medicine there is a 3 month rule. Most GYN issues are significantly improved or completely fixed in three cycles. Can you imagine having easier cycles for the rest of your menstruating life?

Image credit: tashatuvango / 123RF Stock Photo

G-Y-N


I don’t even know how to start this post. I just know I need to write it.

50% of the people in this world will bleed monthly for a significant portion of their life. It happens. The good men of the world will support numerous women during their menstrual cycle, whether it is as a partner, friend, co-worker, or family member. The bad men of the world will exacerbate the cycles of the women near them. Really everyone has to deal with periods.

I love to talk about the things people don’t like to talk about, so a women’s cycle has always topped my list of favorite discussion topics. Now that I’m in business smoothing out women’s menstrual cycles and occasionally making it more fertile I’ve got even more to say.

I don’t have a problem with periods or bleeding or the changes that happen right before and right after. I have a problem with women who don’t respect their body. The cycle is one of the best weathervanes of the body. It reveals to us how strong we are, how much blood we have, how much heat we have, how much qi we have.

So to celebrate the fabulous menstrual cycle I’m planning the next six weeks to discuss periods. One Window of Heaven Words post per week will be about bleeding. Here is the line up to get you excited.

Week One: PMS

Week Two: Blood

Week Three: Duration and Frequency

Week Four: Cramps

Week Five: Temperature

Week Six: Female Intuition During the Cycle

Male readers, it is time to step up and be the mindful one in the relationship whether it is as a partner, family member or friend. Sometimes women can’t see the rhythms as they experience them. Read these posts, learn a little something about the mysterious 28 days and be an advocate for the women in your life!

Just think some of you will get to ovulate, bleed and ovulate again while you are learning. Aren’t you excited!

Image credit: nobilior / 123RF Stock Photo