What’s causing your irregular period?
If you’ve ever searched online for treatment options to regulate the menses, most sites list few options: hormonal therapy and/or possibly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Well, I’m happy to say, for many women, these are not your only options. A lot of women can regulate an irregular period with seed cycling at home and/or Chinese medicine support. Before you can figure out truly what your options are, however, it’s important to have your particular situation assessed by a medical professional. The causes of an irregular period can vary significantly; and depending on the severity of your condition, home remedies may not be advisable.
Will seed cycling help?
Largely promoted by Naturopaths, seed cycling is a method of naturally regulating the hormones through diet. It’s not a traditional Chinese medicine practice; but I have seen it benefit many women. Typically folks are encouraged to ‘seed cycle’ for three to four months before the period is expected to regulate. To learn more about this home remedy, I’d suggest reading, “Seed Cycling for Hormone Balance – Gentle Ways to Restore Normal,” and/or “Seed Cycling for Hormonal Balance.”
What about Chinese medicine?
Whereas seed cycling divides the cycle into two phases of treatment, Chinese medicine actually considers a cycle to have about four phases of treatment. This may include Chinese herbs, acupuncture, moxibustion and/or dietary therapy. Our treatment principles will vary depending on these four phases:
Days 1-4: Regulate the qi and blood
During this phase, we want everything to run smoothly. When the blood or qi is stagnant, we can experience more blood clots, cramps, or breast tenderness. To counter this, we can use herbs and acupuncture focused on moving the blood and qi.
Days 5-12: Nourish blood and yin
After the period, we want to replenish the body’s lost resources. When we are blood deficient, we experience more fatigue, poor concentration, and unrestful sleep. As such, it’s important during this phase to nourish the blood and body’s viscous fluids.
Days 13-16: Regulate qi and blood
If you’re someone whose ovulation is delayed, we would want to reinforce your body’s battery, or “yang,” as well as move the qi and blood during this phase. At ovulation the body is making a big shift from estrogen production to progesterone. By regulating the qi and blood we help make that a smooth transition.
Days 17-25: Warm and tonify yang
At and after ovulation, we want the body’s temperature to warm up. You’ll notice your body basal temperature should go up about 0.3-0.5 degrees during this phase. If a woman’s yang is insufficient, she’ll find her lower abdomen can be cold to the touch, she’ll have a slow rise to her luteal phase and tends to have clots almost black in color. In Chinese medicine, we can use warming foods, medicinals, and moxa to support this phase.
It’s important to note that, for some women, too much heat can cause an irregular period. In that case, we wouldn’t want to warm during this phase, but rather support the overall cooling of her system. Too much heat could present as a shorter cycle.
Where do you go from here?
If you haven’t already, in addition to seeing your ob/gyn, I’d encourage you to start tracking your body basal temperature. Get a second opinion on your options by seeking a consultation with a Chinese medicine practitioner. The earlier in life you regulate your hormones, the easier it is to avoid pregnancy when desired, to increase chances of pregnancy when desired, and to smoothly navigate later life changes. It’s worth it!