A couple of nights ago was this month’s full moon, and that means that you, like many women, might be having your period right now, or you might be ovulating.
This is because the moon exerts a significant effect not only on the ocean and on the tides, but on female physiology and especially on the menstrual cycle.
So, since we’re in this phase of the month, I wanted to share some quick tips with you about how to take care of yourself during your period.
This advice is through the lens of Chinese Medicine Gynecology, which has thousands of years of history balancing women’s hormones and which I’ve used in hundreds of patients over my more than 9 years clinical experience.
TCM understands women’s health, ya’ll.
So, let’s get started.
Don’t: Have Cold or Raw Foods or Beverages
The reason for this is twofold: one, because cold constricts, and the other because it damages the organ that, according to Chinese Medicine, plays a huge role in blood production and the period.
We use ice for swelling because it constricts the blood vessels and prevents edema from forming in traumatized tissue.
Yet during the menstrual period, we generally want to encourage the flow of blood, not stop it. Constricting blood vessels during the period means that it’s harder for the blood to come out, resulting in more pain, clots and overall stagnation. Not good!
That second reason, about the Spleen, has to do with organ physiology. When this organ is damaged by cold, to which it is particularly susceptible, it can later have trouble digesting food, producing blood and keeping blood in the vessels, which are its primary functions.
Do: Stay Calm
I’m not saying don’t express yourself, you should never repress your emotions. However, there can be a tendency to both naturally experience and sometimes indulge in emotional extremes during the period.
It’s a time of a lot of movement in the body and therefore in the mind and spirit. This movement can easily become “reckless” and cause both more grief both physically and emotionally.
To balance this, it’s a good idea to maintain as calm a manner as possible. Exercise emotional restraint, don’t believe everything you think, and *definitely* don’t make any rash decisions. Just stay calm as this, too, shall pass.
Don’t: Have Intercourse
Some people believe it’s harmless to have intercourse on your period. TCM doesn’t agree, and I’ve seen many cases in the clinic which a woman having sex on her period has led to problems down the line.
The issue lies in the microcirculation. Again, the period is a time of blood flowing, and that’s a natural, great thing. So we don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this process.
Sex during menstruation may cause bruising or small micro-tears in the tissue which later on can lead to blood stagnation and pain.
It’s even thought in Western Medicine that sex during menstruation may contribute to endometriosis, where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus in the pelvic and abdominal cavity, by pushing menstrual blood back up into the body instead of letting it flow outward.
Do: Cover Up & Keep Yourself Warm
Circulation likes warmth. So does the Spleen. Plus, you’re losing blood.
All good reasons to keep yourself cozy and warm, covered, and avoid getting a chill especially on your abdomen and legs, where the meridians of menstruation are located.
During the menses, these channels are open and therefore vulnerable to invasions of cold.
This applies to internal temperatures as well: just as we want to avoid cold or raw foods and beverages, likewise it’s advisable to have warm, cooked foods which help to relax the tissues and are easier to digest.
So, to wrap up: stay warm (internally and externally), give yourself a rest from intercourse, and stay calm.
These may seem like simple tips, but the devil is in the details.
By following these time and clinic-tested habits during your period, you may notice that you both feel better during menstruation, as well as throughout your cycle.
Have you tried these? Let me know how they’ve worked for you.
And, if your period is painful, you experience strong PMS, irregular cycles or other gynecological imbalances, I may be able to help. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a Free Online Discovery Session and we’ll see what we can do to get you feeling better.
Kelli N. Davis, L.Ac., M.A.O.M.
Expert in TCM Gynecology
Medical Board Licensed Oriental Medicine Practitioner