Irregular Periods

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding and Abnormal Periods Resolved with Chinese Medicine

There are many types of irregularities that can occur during the menstrual cycle and Traditional Chinese Medicine differentiates each syndrome to create effective treatment strategies. A normal period would occur approximately every 28 days and last 3-5 days. A normal menstrual flow of blood would be bright red, without discoloration or clots, and would flow at a regular pace. 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. As with most health conditions, more than one pattern of imbalance is common in Chinese medicine.

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Acupressure Protocol for Normalized Menstrual Bleedingessential oils for acupressure

How to Apply Acupressure Explained Here!

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Heavy Periods in Chinese Medicineorganic chinese herb formula for women blood stagnation

Women often experience abnormally heavy periods and hemorrhaging during menopause, but flooding menstruation can happen throughout the reproductive years. There are three main causes of heavy bleeding during menstruation according to Chinese medicine and more than one cause can be responsible:

Blood Stagnation Causing Flooding

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. Consider our organic Stasis in the Lower Palace formula! 

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Spleen Qi Deficiency Causing Floodingrestore-the-middle-way-organic herbal spleen tonic

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. Consider our organic Restore the Middle Way formula

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Blood Heat Causing Flooding

Ongoing Liver Qi Stagnation can result in Blood Heat and Reckless Blood according to TCM. Symptoms would include irritability, restlessness, or headaches.

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Caution: 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.

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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 Causing Long Periodfree and easy wanderer organic chinese herbal formula

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 and brown blood at the start of menstruation, frustration, headaches, or depression. Consider our organic Free and Easy Wanderer formula 

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Kidney Yin Deficiency Causing Long Period

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. Women may experience dull aches in the lower back with Kidney Deficiency. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

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Early Periods in Chinese Medicine 

An early period a cycle that is shorter than 26 days and would have to occur more than two months in a row for this diagnosis. 

Qi Deficiency Causing Early Menstrual Periods

Spleen Qi Deficiency from poor dietary habits or from exhaustion and overwork result in the Spleen Qi not "holding the Blood" due to Deficiency. Loose stools and tiredness may be experienced. Consider our organic Restore the Middle Way formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy: 

Heat Excess Causing Early Menstrual Periods

Blood-Heat from excessive alcohol consumption, ongoing feelings of frustration and anger, or chronic Liver Qi Stagnation can create Heat that can enter the Conception Vessel, or Ren Mai and the Chong Mai that are extraordinary vessels involved with women's reproductive health. This is a condition based on Excess rather than Deficiency and the blood flow may seem excessive.

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Empty Heat Causing Early Menstrual Periodsyin valley organic chinese herb tonic formula

Kidney Yin Deficient Heat can result from ongoing physical exhaustion, birthing many children, and chronic stress. These early periods occurs because the Kidney is not controlling the Conception Vessel, or Ren Mai and the Chong Mai that are extraordinary vessels involved with women's reproductive health. These early periods would be due to Deficiency with night sweats possibly. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy: 

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Bleeding Between Periods in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yin and Liver Yin Insufficiency Causing Bleeding Between Periods

The Liver and Kidney energetic organ systems are often used to balance hormonal fluctuation in Chinese medicine. In this case, empty heat develops often in older women approaching menopause and presents with hot flashes and emotional outbursts. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula along with our organic Free and Easy Wanderer formula 

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Blood Stasis Causing Spotting Between Periods

This could be caused from surgery of reproductive organs, having multiple births close together, or chronic Liver Qi Stagnation. One may have brown blood at the onset of menstruation, and sharp menstrual cramps. Consider our organic Stasis in the Lower Palace formula! 

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Kidney Yang Deficiency Causing Bleeding Between Periodsyang topical essential oils

This bleeding would occur mid-cycle near ovulation and is often associated with causes of infertility 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. Menstrual blood may be diluted or pink in color. Consider our organic Ancestor Treasure formula and topical Kidney Yang Plaster

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

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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.

Blood Deficiency Causing Scanty Periodsorganic sage mountain rejuvenation tonic herb formula

 This sometimes occurs after many years of heavy periods, or can result from general Blood Deficiency that has developed over time. The complexion would likely be pale or dull, and one may have a poor memory or feel dizzy. Insomnia may be present. Consider using our organic Sage Mountain formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Kidney Yang Deficiency Causing Scanty Periods

While there will also be indications of Blood Deficiency, one would have a feeling of coldness possibly with sharp cramp pains made better with heat compresses. Menstrual blood may look watery or pink in color. Consider our organic Ancestor Treasure formula and topical Kidney Yang Plaster applied over the kidneys and lower abdomen.

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Kidney Yin Deficiency Causing Scanty Periods

There would be indications of Blood Deficiency along with hot flashes, afternoon sweats, and/or night sweats. One may also notice an achy lower back before and during menstruation. Consider our organic Yin Valley formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Blood Stagnation Causing Scanty Periods

This would likely present with clots in menstrual blood and painful periods made better with the passing of blood clots. Consider our organic Stasis in the Lower Palace formula! 

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Dampness Causing Scanty Periods

This condition may be marked by tiredness while menstruating, thick phlegm vaginal discharges between periods, and brown blood at the onset of period. Consider our organic Restore the Middle Way formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

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Cold in the Uterus Causing Late Periods

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. Consider our organic Restore the Middle Way formula and topical Kidney Yang Plaster over the kidneys and lower abdomen

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

Kidney Yang Deficiency Causing Late Periods

Kidney Yang Deficiency could lead to Cold in the Uterus with achie cramps made better with heat compresses to the lower abdomen and lower back. Consider our organic Ancestor Treasure formula and topical Kidney Yang Plaster over the kidneys and lower abdomen.

Liver Qi Stagnation Causing Late Periods

Because the Liver controls the menstrual Blood, it often plays a role in irregular periods. You may notice breast tenderness before your period and emotional upset. Consider our organic Free and Easy Wanderer formula

Acupressure Point Combination Strategy:

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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, diabetesIBS, or having many pregnancies close together. In Chinese medicine, causes can include Blood Deficiency, Spleen Qi Deficiency, Yin Deficiency, or Yang Deficiency.

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Painful Periods in Chinese Medicine

There are many imbalances that can cause pain before, during, or after menstruation discussed in our PMS and Women's Health articles linked here.

Hormonal Birth Control Leading to Menstrual Irregularities

It is widely understood in contemporary Chinese medicine that hormonal birth control used over a long period of time (more than 8 years) creates a substantial amount of Liver Qi Stagnation and emotional unrest. Women can help to avoid these issues by using natural interventions such as Liver soothing herbs, Qigong meditations, and acupressure techniques regularly. This scenario accounts for many women under the age of 30, and even more over 30 years of age. Long-term shots and implants create severe Liver Qi Stagnation and Shen disorders much more quickly (in under a year). Hormonal IUD's create both Liver Qi Stagnation and Blood Stagnation, but less severe that oral and injection hormonal birth control.

Barrier methods such as condoms and diaphragms used with spermicidal cream have little to no impact, but have fallen out of vogue recently. It is highly recommended that women wanting to become pregnant discontinue hormonal birth control 6-8 months prior to conception and use barrier birth control methods along with Chinese medicine to promote fertility and bring their body back in to balance.

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References

Woo, H. L., Ji, H. R., Pak, Y. K., Lee, H., Heo, S. J., Lee, J. M., & Park, K. S. (2018). The efficacy and safety of acupuncture in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine97(23), e11007. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000011007

Xu, Y., Zhao, W., Li, T., Bu, H., Zhao, Z., Zhao, Y., & Song, S. (2017). Effects of acupoint-stimulation for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea compared with NSAIDs: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 RCTs. BMC complementary and alternative medicine17(1), 436. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1924-8

Jacoby, V. L., Jacoby, A., Learman, L. A., Schembri, M., Gregorich, S. E., Jackson, R., & Kuppermann, M. (2014). Use of medical, surgical and complementary treatments among women with fibroidsEuropean journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology182, 220–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2014.09.004

Ray, S., & Ray, A. (2016). Non-surgical interventions for treating heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) in women with bleeding disordersThe Cochrane database of systematic reviews11(11), CD010338. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010338.pub3

Cochrane, S., Smith, C. A., Possamai-Inesedy, A., & Bensoussan, A. (2014). Acupuncture and women's health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women's reproductive health. International journal of women's health6, 313–325. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S38969

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Dr. Browne's Shared Insights and Experiences

Over the decades of caring for women in clinic, one regular comment was made over-and-over by patients who have abnormal menstrual cycles: "This is normal for me". Women who experienced pain or irregular bleeding from an early age think that it always has to be this way because of their own unique cycle. It could be that they had a genetic disposition to a reproductive imbalance, but it is abnormal none-the less.

If treated with Chinese medicine at a young age, the condition is corrected quickly. However, if a woman has tolerated these imbalances for decades it's going to take many months to reach a resolution. Typically, women specifically come to me because they are having a difficult time conceiving. These women tend to be in their late 30's and wanted quick results as they felt their window of opportunity to have children closing. Or, women in their 40's-50's having torturous peri-menopausal symptoms come to me looking for relief. Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix at this late stage and 6-8 months of therapy are required.