September 7, 2019

Written by Nicolette Truscott

The commencement of Women’s Health Week (Sep 2nd-6th) has got me thinking about all thing’s women.  For a lot of people there appears to be a disconnect from the day to day functioning of their own bodies in modern Western culture, and the menstrual cycle is no exception.  Reflecting on previous consultations with women in clinic, when asked aspects related to menstruation and their cycle many women struggle to identify prominent aspects such as cycle duration, presence or absence of clots and blood colour.  This is despite the phenomenon occurring monthly.

Historically there exists a lot of stigma and taboo surrounding the cycle, stemming back from biblical days where the menses was discussed as ‘unclean’ and something to be hidden and ashamed of (for reference read Leviticus 15:19-33) and as such we just aren’t talking.  Consequently, many women are unaware if what they experience monthly is typical or indicative of deeper problems.  So, we put up with tremendous pain, discomfort and emotional turmoil with the assumption that it is just a ‘women’s curse’.

If we take the example of endometriosis (a condition in which the uterine lining grows and sheds where it shouldn’t and consequently can inflict a tremendous amount of pain around menstruation) which affects one in every ten Australian women, the average diagnosis is currently taking between seven to ten years. This indicates to me that either:

  • The medical community isn’t listening when women say something isn’t right with the pain they are experiencing in their cycle
  • Women aren’t connected to their cycles and other women may be unaware that this kind of pain isn’t just something that we have to put up with.

 “The menstrual cycle is the
barometer of our wellbeing.”
~ Alexandra Pope

The menstrual cycle can be in itself a reflection of hormonal patterns and internal disharmonies.   It is influenced by many factors including stress, poor nutrition, weight, exercise, hormones and medications.

Chinese Medicine has a slightly different view.  Pain is seen as a bi-product of obstruction, things not moving or flowing the way that they should.  As the basis of Chinese Medicine is the relationship of the body within the natural world, the terminology used to diagnose disharmony also reflects this.  Menstrual issues can be related to a lack of quality or movement of the blood, cold or heat in the body, a lack of vital resources or ‘Qi’ (energy) available to the body, a dysfunction of movement of this ‘Qi’, among many others.

Tong Ze Bu Tong Bu Tong Ze Tong – Where there is pain, there is no free flow; Where there is free flow, there is no pain”

So, what is a normal cycle?

A ‘textbook’ cycle consists of the following:

      • 27-29 days
      • Zero pain
      • Flow starts straight away. No stop-start bleeding
      • 3-4 days of bleeding with quantity about 50-80mls
      • 1-2 days of light bleed and spotting at end
      • Colour is deep red, not purple, or brown or bright red
      • No clots, stringy bits or mucous
      • Not watery, or dry
      • 3-5 days of obvious fertile cervical mucous leading up to ovulation

Signs of disharmony:

        • Clots and excessive pain during period and ovulation
        • Pain during sex.
        • Excessive premenstrual symptoms such as mood swings, anger, depression, fluids retention.
        • Excessive bleeding and flooding either in amount or duration
        • Very long, short or irregular cycles (pathologically stated at 7+ days from the textbook 28day cycle)
        • A lack of blood during menstruation or an absence altogether

Getting to Know Your Cycle

I would strongly encourage women to document and get to intimately know their cycles, especially those who are preparing to conceive. There are so many amazing apps these days to help with this process such as Fertility Friend (https://www.fertilityfriend.com/) or Kindara (https://www.kindara.com/).  These apps are not just helpful for recording your menstruation dates and related symptoms, but you can also document an array of details important to you, such as energy levels and emotional patterns which unknowingly may be influenced by your cycle.  Once we start paying attention and see the patterns unfurl it’s amazing what we can discover about ourselves!

Chinese Medicine has a lot to offer in the area of gynecology. To book a consultation with Nicolette, please call the clinic on (03) 5429 3610 or to book online click on the link below.

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