Menstrual Cycle Disorders
The menstrual cycle is a reflection of how well your body is functioning, and can give an insight into internal imbalances. An “ideal” menstrual cycle is 28 days (between 26 and 30 days is still considered to be normal) with a regular ovulation occurring mid cycle. Menstrual blood should be a fresh red colour starting with a moderate flow then progressing to heavier for a couple days before tapering off and stopping. There should be no symptoms of mood changes, breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, bloating, pain/cramping, excessive bleeding, and clots.
A regular healthy menstrual cycle indicates good hormonal balance and ovary function. Regardless of whether you are trying to conceive or not, your menstrual health is important. From a Chinese Medicine perspective we look at this process in terms of the Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang and the internal organs.
Common Menstrual Cycle disorders include:
PMS: A group of symptoms that appear in the lead up to the menstrual period. These include mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness, fatigue, appetite changes, bloating and abdominal cramping.
Dysmenorrhoea: Pain before, during or after the menstrual period. Usually lower abdominal pain, which may radiate to the lower back, sacrum, vulva, and anus or down the thighs. The pain can range from being dull and achey to quite severe and debilitating.
Irregular periods: If the menstrual cycle is unpredictable, arriving 7 days earlier or later than the expected date this is considered irregular.
Shortened Menstrual Cycle: The menstrual period arrives 7 or more days earlier than the expected date.
Delayed Menstrual Cycle: The menstrual cycle is delayed by 7 or more days later than the expected date (can even be 40-50 days).
Menorrhagia: Heavy or excessive menstrual bleeding.
Hypo-Menorrhoea: Very light or scanty menstrual flow often with short duration (<2 days).
Prolonged Menstruation: Menstrual flow continues for an extended period of time (7 – 15 days).
Uterine Bleeding: Bleeding outside of the menstrual cycle, which can be either heavy or scanty.
Amenorrhoea: No periods and no ovulation. Primary Amenorrhoea is when there is no menstrual period by the age of 18. Secondary Amenorrhoea is the absence of a menstrual period for more than 3 months, after having a regular menstruation in the past. This excludes conditions such as pregnancy, lactation and post-menopause.
Morbid Leucorrhoea: Excessive vaginal discharge, which may have an abnormal colour, odour and quality.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective the main organs involved in menstrual cycle disorders are the Liver, Kidney, Spleen and Heart. Patterns of disharmony include: Qi Stagnation, Qi and Blood Stagnation, Blood Stasis, Qi Deficiency, Blood Deficiency, Heat, Cold, Phlegm-Damp, Damp-Heat, Phlegm-Heat, Yang Deficiency and Yin Deficiency.
The menstrual period should come and go with minimal discomfort. You should not have to “live with” or “put up” with severe symptoms, which can impact on your daily life. Your menstrual cycle should be celebrated, not something that is dreaded or avoided!