Female hormonal system
April 23, 2020
A female hormonal system is a refined self-regulating phenomenon, affecting the menstrual cycle, its regularity and, later in life, ensuring a smooth transition from reproductive to restorative phase. When in balance, moving through different monthly and yearly stages should be mild and barely noticeable, culminating in a healthy menopause.
In Chinese medicine, both pre-menstrual tension syndrome (PMS) and period-related pain (dysmenorrhea) are the signs of emotional and physical blockages or stagnation, as at this phase of the monthly cycle the female body tends to naturally slow down and go into introspection. In TCM terms, there are two main elements involved - the energy (Qi) and the blood. Our Qi is more Yang (hot and fast) by nature, while the blood - more Yin (cool and nourishing). Imagine both of them flowing through your body smoothly like a stream. Now imagine that prior to the period their flow is gradually reduced or obstructed. This helps to create a warm cocoon in the lower body of the woman in order to support a possible pregnancy, with the heat (Yang) and energy levels gradually building up. If a woman is not pregnant, on the first day of the period this gate opens, resulting in a blood flow. In a balanced state, this is a smooth and virtually painless process. However, depending on the various lifestyle and health challenges, in the week leading to an expected period many women can feel more emotional than usual (angry, teary or alternating between these two emotions) and have various physical symptoms, such as lethargy, skin outbreaks, breast tenderness or cramps in the lower abdomen. The above symptoms can be helped by a combination of TCM treatments and a moderate level of a gentle physical exercise (⚠️ pay special attention if possibly pregnant!). Soft forms of Yoga, Qi Gong/Tai Qi and hula-hooping can all be very helpful in a week preceding the expected period.
To assist with gynaecological symptoms, Chinese medicine concentrates on balancing the following organs and systems:
- The Kidneys - Kidney Jing (Essence) determines the amount of our inherited life energy, corresponding to gametes or eggs and sperm in Western medicine. Kidney Yin and Yang include the influence of the hormones which regulate the different parts of the cycle.
- The Heart houses our Shen (spirit), including the mind and the activity of the hypothalamus and pituitary, which controls the whole cycle.
- In TCM, the Uterus (called Bao Gong) includes all the reproductive organs: uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix. The pathways or channels, called the Bao Mai (Uterus vessel) and Bao Luo (Uterus channel), provide the means of communication between the Heart, Uterus and Kidneys.
- The Liver ensures the smooth flow of energy (Qi) throughout our bodies and Qi moves the blood. The Liver is also involved in ensuring a smooth flow of our different physical and emotional patterns.
It is important to pay attention to your period and related symptoms even when you are not trying to conceive. Stress, hormonal birth control and trauma are just a few of the triggers that can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to painful and/or irregular periods, sudden mood changes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, etc. A healthy female hormonal system plays an important role in fertility, pregnancy and post-menopausal health. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine help maintain this subtle and important equilibrium in a natural non-chemical way, attuning to an individual rhythm of each woman.
Appropriate TCM treatments:
Acupuncture - ✅
Chinese herbs - ✅
Dietary/Lifestyle advice - ✅
Moxa/Heat lamp - ✅
Qi Gong - ✅
Tuina (meridian massage)
Number of treatments required - 5-10, depending on the severity of symptoms/duration of disease. Additional maintenance/top-up treatments may be advised.
Frequency of treatments - 1-2 times a week, depending on the severity of symptoms.