There are many symptoms that accompany menstruation. Normal menstruation usually has a regular cyclicity, a consistent flow pattern, and a minimal amount of clots. Travel, stress, trauma, and dietary changes can all alter the menstrual cycle. These alterations should be temporary and any persistent change should prompt you to have your body evaluated. On the other hand, how your menstruation is changed can alert you to how your body is reacting to stress.
Some discomfort associated with the onset of menstruation is normal. Pains that are increasing or require pain medications are not normal and need to be evaluated. Especially in teens whose menarche and subsequent menses are irregular or painful, this may indicate an underlying problem such as endometriosis. By first prescribing oral contraceptives for this condition without addressing the underlying imbalance - the inflammatory activity - the problem may persist even years after initial onset. This may also affect fertility when planning a family later in life. Other reasons for painful menstruation can be infection, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, IUD usage, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and uterine fibroids. Chinese Medicine believes that when we experience pain, the body is trying to communicate to us an imbalance needing treatment or care. The approach to treating pelvic menstrual pain needs to be a natural and holistic one. This means we need to not only address the pain and associated symptoms, but we also need to address the underlying cause. By identifying the nature of the condition, appropriate acupuncture treatment or herbal remedies can be administered to address the condition as a whole. The key to successful eradication of menstrual pains and associated symptoms is to treat the condition early on.
"Premenstrual syndrome” (PMS) is the cyclic recurrence of a group of symptoms that peak 7 to 10 days before menstruation and disappear a few hours after the onset of the menstrual flow. This condition is characterized by multiple and diverse symptoms including, but not limited to: breast tenderness, transient weight gain, bloating, constipation, insomnia, acne, headache, pelvic pain, irritability, depression, mood swings, poor concentration, confusion, social withdrawal, impulsiveness and appetite changes. While many women experience mild symptoms of short duration, other women have more severe symptoms that last for many days and temporarily disturb their normal functioning.
PMS is due to unbalanced hormonal fluctuations. A mixture of correct diet, adequate exercise, and emotional clarity, along with acupuncture and Chinese medicinal herbs can correct imbalances and bring long-term relief.
Balanced nutrition is crucial for overcoming PMS. Certain foods such as alcohol, caffeine, cold temperature foods, sugar, salt, and animal fats exacerbate symptoms of PMS and should be avoided. In addition, commercial red meats and poultry, which have a residue of steroids composed of female animal sex hormones, should be eliminated from the diet. Food necessary for a harmonious menstrual cycle include: plenty of organic vegetables, small amounts of fruit, whole grains, legumes (especially soy), seaweed, small amounts of lean hormone-free meats, and fish (especially salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel).
Exercise plays an important role in the treatment of PMS. Thirty to forty-five minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week improves blood circulation and significantly helps reduce symptoms.
In addition to diet and exercise, some form of meditation can be very helpful. Our emotions and hormones influence each other, since they are registered in the same part of our brain. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and therefore worsen the symptoms of PMS. Some quiet time everyday helps bring emotional and physical equilibrium.
Chinese medicine offers even more tools to address premenstrual syndrome. Acupuncture removes energy blockages and in turn stabilizes hormonal fluctuations. It also provides deep relaxation that helps to calm the mind. Chinese herbs work together with acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy and substances in the body. Together they stimulate the body’s natural functions and encourage it to establish optimum balance.
Women do not have to accept and live with premenstrual syndrome. When the symptoms of PMS are reduced or eliminated, women feel more energetic -- physically, mentally, emotionally and creatively.