Chinese medicine views the menstrual cycle as an ebb and flow of Yin and Yang energy. The cycle is divided in four distinct phases and the therapeutic approach would differ depending on which phase one isin. By taking a closer look at various stages of the cycle, we can identify clues as to where there may be an imbalance in the cycle. An unhealthy or imbalanced cycle will generally be associated with more discomfort and symptoms throughout the cycle and can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant and stay pregnant. Let’s explore each phase and how imbalances in each stage can affect a woman’s health and ability to conceive.
From first day of the period until the bleeding stops
During mentruation, the uterus sheds its lining, getting rid of old tissue and making way for a new fresh lining to develop. How well this phase happens sets the stage for the rest of the cycle, and your ability to fall pregnant later in the cycle..
~Acupuncture focus during phase 1 ‘Move Qi and Blood.’ If the period is too light or starts with spotting we work to nourish and invigorate the blood. If the period is too heavy or long we
focus on regulating the blood to a more healthy and moderate flow. If there is pain or clotting we aim to smooth the flow of qi and blood to relieve pain.
From end of bleed until ovulation
During this time the endometrial lining of the uterus is thickening, the dominant follicle is developing in the ovary. Toward the end of phase 2 the cervix begins to produce mucous. An imbalance in this phase can lead to poor quality cervical mucous mid-cycle, insufficient endometrial lining, delayed ovulation, or even an absence of ovulation.
~Acupuncture focus during phase 2 ‘Nourish the Blood and Yin.’
After the blood loss from the period, it is often appropriate to “nourish blood and Yin” at this time. Indeed, we need optimal blood and blood flow to grow a healthy endometrium. Yin, the moist and fertile energy, is needed to help follicle developement and to produce fertile cervical mucous.
The mature egg is released from the ovary and begins to travel down the fallopian tube for possible fertilization by sperm.
~Acupuncture focus during phase 3 ‘Regulate the Qi and Blood.’ In this relatively short phase we want to ensure everything flows smoothly so the tiny muscles in the fallopian tubes do not contract from stress (this could make it difficult for the egg to travel smoothly down the tube).
From a few days after ovulation through the start of the next period, or a positive pregnancy test
If conception has occurred and the resulting embryo implants successfully in the endometrial lining, this is soon followed by a positive pregnancy test. At this point it is the Yang energy that is required; if weak, the pregnancy may not continue to develop. Many women who experience multiple miscarriages turn out to have insufficiency if Yang in terms of Chinese medicine.
~Acupuncture focus during phase 4 ‘Warm the Uterus and Strengthen the Yang.’ The idea is to warm the uterus and encourage the lifting and holding energies to hold pregnancy. If the period comes we continue to work toward a healthy and balanced cycle for optimal fertility.
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During your first session we’ll go over your fertility and menstrual health history and discuss how we can bring balance to your cycle and optimize fertility with acupuncture treatments, herbal medicine, food therapy and lifestyle adjustments.