I acknowledge that some individuals born with wombs may not identify with the word woman. But for the purpose of this blog I will use the word woman/women when discussing menstruation.
Once upon a time before electricity, women’s menstrual cycles would be in sync. The light of the full moon would trigger ovulation and they would bleed together at the dark new moon. For some of us that sounds so mystical and appealing and although our physiology hasn’t changed, since then our environments have. One of the period apps collecting menstrual cycle data did a study to see if the moon did affect our timings collectively, but the data showed it no longer did… we are out of sync with nature.
Though we may not always sync with the moon we cycle like the moon. We wax and wane internally with our emotions, our activities, and our energy. Being mindful of this can explain so much of how we respond and react in the world, with our loved ones, and in our workplace or in school. We often reflect back on our premenstrual moods only when the bleed arrives. Like the moon, we go through monthly phases also. Bleed, Follicular phase, Ovulation, Luteal phase and bleed again. Try keeping a diary or use your period app to note your moods and symptoms. You may find patterns and this can be insightful as you will learn what you need at each phase of your cycle.
So, your unique cycle is exactly that and not a good idea to compare yourself to another’s. A ‘normal’ cycle is anywhere between 21 and 35 days, the average being 28. An irregular cycle is when you have inconsistent cycle lengths more or bleed less than about 5 days. A long cycle is beyond 35 days and short less than 21. No cycles or a few cycles a year could be due to stress, weight loss, over exercising or PCOS. Women in their 40’s reaching menopause can experience shorter or irregular cycles.
Knowing your own unique cycle pattern is a good idea because when you have variations to this you can start questioning if anything needs addressing.
BBT charting is great for understanding your cycle, advised for those trying to conceive, avoiding pregnancy naturally or coming off hormonal contraception’s. It helps to know when you are ovulating, if your phases appear hormonally normal, recognising your unique mucus patterns or identifying any imbalances. After a few months of charting you begin to recognise how your body is working without the need for other tools.
Treating women’s cycles is what I do and have done for my whole acupuncturist life. In college I recognised how Chinese Medicine can help and I reflected on my teenage years where girls would chat about their bad symptoms but not about what we could do about it. Maybe this has changed over time due to awareness through apps and the internet, but I do find girls mostly accept ‘their lot’ of period symptoms. Enough I say! and as a result I love teaching youth and adults the fundamentals of our anatomy, body’s function, and solutions to a better life of cycles. We have an average of 500 periods over four decades, so best embrace them.
In a women’s health consultation many questions are asked about your symptoms and how your body is functioning.
How long is your cycle? How many days do you bleed for? Any spotting? Pain? Clots? Bleeding between periods? When did they start? Any contraception? And more.
One question I like to ask is, how was your biological mother’s history of periods (if you know, if not ask if you can) also your mothers sisters or female siblings of your own. Unfortunately, we sometimes inherit bad periods but that doesn’t mean we cannot support you and make changes.
The food we eat, the environments we inhabit, our weight, the products we put on our skin and in our house can also contribute to our menstrual health. As can our hormone profile, iron stores and other minerals and vitamins levels.
So, as you can see investigating menstrual health is more than one thing, it is multi layered and individualised and therefore treatment and lifestyle changes may vary from patient to patient.
We have a menstrual cycle to create life, and we have many cycles where conception never takes place, but our body continues over and over again for one day we may get pregnant. Just as the moon effects so much on earth as it transforms through its phases we are no too dissimilar. Our hormones rise and fall and as a result we are introverted and extroverted, sensitive and powerful, strong and vulnerable all in one cycle. Our wombs have a lot of wisdom to impart, it can whisper, shout or occasionally scream. If you listen carefully, you will understand how to live in sync with yourself and with nature.
Kerry is available at Mornington Chinese Medicine from 9am to 2pm on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
138 Tanti Avenue, Mornington, VIC
03 5973 6886