For centuries, acupuncture has been used to regulate women’s periods when they lose balance. Few women we see in the clinic have a “perfect” 28-day menstrual cycle. Some women have never had a regular menstrual cycle, some lost their regularity after taking the birth control pill, and some aren’t sure why their cycles changed. Regardless of the cause, menstrual problems can make getting pregnant more difficult, so regulating the period is one of the first steps of fertility treatment. Acupuncture can treat menstrual irregularity and help restore regular cycles.
Which menstrual irregularities does acupuncture treat?
The irregularities in the period I see often in the clinic are:
- Early periods/short cycles – menstrual cycles shorter than 28 days and/or periods that come up to 9 days early
- Late periods/long cycles – menstrual cycles longer than 30 days for at least three months in a row. Some cycles may be up to 50 days
- Irregular periods (metrorrhagia) – periods that are sometimes early and sometimes late, but unpredictably so. This is normal before the onset of menopause or in the first months after a woman’s first period
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia) – Heavy periods are normal in frequency and duration, but above average blood loss. Periods usually require frequent change of tampons or pads
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) – This includes pain before, during and after menstruation. Cramping may be felt in the lower abdomen, back, and legs. Pain may be so severe as to cause nausea, vomiting and even fainting.
- Spotting between periods – This is usually seen as mid-cycle bleeding. It is important to distinguish this between early periods or vaginal discharge with blood. Basal body temperature (BBT) charting and thorough review of symptoms will be helpful in determining this.
- No periods (amenorrhea) – This can be primary amenorrhea (has not had a period by the age of 18) or secondary amenorrhea (no periods for at least 3 months). Temporary amenorrhea after childbirth or during breastfeeding is normal. It’s also important to rule out pregnancy when there is a sudden stoppage in periods.
- Alternating heavy and light periods – this typically a period that starts suddenly with a heavy “gushing” flow and then becomes scanty during the period itself.
What are the causes of menstrual irregularities?
Stress, lifestyle, diet, emotions, overwork, and environment may all contribute to menstrual irregularities. All of these factors will be discussed during your acupuncture treatment for irregular periods. It is important to rule out a complication with the thyroid or other hormone imbalances.
How is irregular menstruation treated by acupuncture?
We will work to balance the constitution and overall health of a woman in addition to treating the menstrual irregularity. Acupuncture and herbs are often used together when treating gynecological issues. We will discuss lifestyle and dietary modifications that may be helpful in regulating the period.