Irregular periods happen, and they happen to a lot of women. That doesn’t mean it is normal.
Before we talk about irregular periods, let’s define what regular is. According to textbooks, a regular period is every 28 to 30 days, and bleeding lasts 5 to 7 days. Since every woman is different, your cycle might be slightly different than this. As long as your period comes at a regular interval (not too early, but not too late, and you generally know which day it will happen, every 26-34 days) and you don’t bleed too little or too much (less than 4 days or more than 7 days), then they are considered regular.
Sidenote: just because they are regular, doesn’t mean they are “normal” either. Some women experience tremendous PMS, others suffer from debilitating cramps. While this isn’t a blog on these 2 topics, I just wanted to shed light on the fact that these are NOT normal either.
Back to regular and irregular periods…
Irregular periods occur when sex hormones aren’t balanced, when your adrenal glands aren’t functioning optimally due to stress, or because of external factors such as nutrition, environmental exposure, exercise, stress, medical conditions (fibroids, polyps, etc.), and much more. So many things can impact periods.
Periods, according to TCM
In Chinese Medicine, an irregular cycle is due to a disharmony between organs, stagnation of energy, the lack of or deficiency of blood or yin, or too much heat or too much cold invading the body.
Early menstruation is typically a sign of heat in the blood, Qi deficiency, or Spleen Qi deficiency and late menstruation can be due to a blood deficiency, a cold constitution, Yang or Yin deficiency, Qi stagnation or deficiency. Remember, other patterns and more than one pattern is very possible.
What makes Chinese Medicine and acupuncture so great at treating irregular periods is that it breaks down your cycle into 4 phases and supports each of those phases individually. In addition, point selection is individualized based on your Chinese Medicine diagnostic pattern.
Phase 1: Menstrual Bleeding
The focus is on supporting the flow of Qi and blood to ensure that the flow is healthy and there are no cramps, clots, heavy bleeding, or scanty flow.
Phase 2: Yin Building
Yin is fluid, blood, and tissue. Now that you have lost a lot of yin during phase 1, phase 2 is to help rebuild lost stores and ensure there are no deficiencies happening so that a healthy uterine lining gets built.
Phase 3: Ovulation
This phase is when your yin energy is at its peak, and yang energy is starting to rise to allow the release of an egg and fertile cervical mucus. The focus here is on unblocking any energy stagnation to encourage healthy ovulation.
Phase 4: Yang Energy
Yang energy is warmth and movement. This is why your basal body temperature should be rising during this last phase of the cycle. Here, we focus on improving Yang energy.
Acupuncture for fertility?
Now that you have a better understanding of how acupuncture is used to regulate your periods naturally, I am sure you have a better appreciation of how it can be beneficial for fertility. Acupuncture can increase fertility by reducing stress, improves blood flow to the reproductive organs for more nourishment, balances hormones, and helps regulate periods. While acupuncture can be used alone to promote fertility, it can also be used in conjunction with fertility treatments to improve the outcomes of IUI and IVF.
Cochrane S., Smith C., Possamai-Inesedy A., Bensoussan A. “Acupuncture and women’s health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women’s reproductive health”. Int J Womens Health. 2014; 6: 313-325. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962314/