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Let's talk about the Menstrual Cycle.

Suvini Jayasekera, L.Ac, MTCM

Periods, also known as the menstrual cycle, are a natural part of a woman's reproductive health. The menstrual cycle is a process of physical and hormonal changes that occurs in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy.

In Western medicine, the menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones fluctuate in a specific pattern throughout the menstrual cycle and can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including abdominal cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, headaches, fatigue, acne, cravings for certain foods, and difficulty sleeping.

The menstrual cycle is typically around 28 days long, but it can vary from person to person. The first day of the cycle is the first day of bleeding, which is called the menstrual period. The period usually lasts for a few days and is caused by the shedding of the lining of the uterus, or womb.

Days 1-5: Menstrual period

  • The levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.

Days 6-14: Follicular phase

  • The levels of estrogen begin to rise.

  • The ovaries start to produce an egg, or ovum.

Days 15-22: Ovulatory phase

  • The levels of estrogen peak, which triggers the release of an egg from the ovaries. This is called ovulation.

Days 23-28: Luteal phase

  • The levels of progesterone begin to rise.

  • The uterine lining starts to thicken in preparation for pregnancy.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the menstrual cycle is believed to be influenced by the balance of yin and yang in the body. The yin energies are thought to be associated with the female reproductive system and the yang energies are associated with the male reproductive system. When the yin and yang energies are in balance, a woman's menstrual cycle is considered to be regular and healthy.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the menstrual cycle is also influenced by the flow of qi, or life energy, through the body. Qi is believed to flow through the body along pathways known as meridians, and any blockages or imbalances in the flow of qi can result in menstrual irregularities or other health problems.

In traditional Chinese medicine, herbs and acupuncture are often used to help regulate the menstrual cycle and alleviate menstrual symptoms. Some common herbs used for this purpose include angelica, peony, and licorice. Acupuncture is believed to help regulate the flow of qi and blood, which can help to alleviate menstrual cramps and other menstrual symptoms.

It's important for women to be aware of their menstrual cycle and to seek medical help if they experience any unusual or concerning symptoms. By understanding the menstrual cycle and taking care of their reproductive health, women can support their overall health and well-being.

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