Are you not getting your period, especially when you are ready to have a baby? Or do you want to be reproductively fit for your own health and for when you do want to start a family in the future?
This article will inspire and educate you to make easy lifestyle changes that will encourage your body and fertility to return to a balanced, natural cycle through Chinese herbs, diet and Acupuncture to conceive successfully.
Why Does It Happen?
Reasons for which you are not menstruating may include stress, dietary deficiencies, and low or excess body weight, coming off contraceptives, hormonal imbalance or other underlying issues.
What Can I do To Menstruate Again?
Given the lining of the uterus has not been shed for sometime, it is important to bring circulation to your uterus and ovaries to re-establish your cycle. You can do this with Chinese Herbs, Acupuncture, massage, castor oil packs and nutrition. Taking synthetic oestrogen should be a last option; it can work against your fertility (Wright & Johnson, 2008).
Traditional Chinese Medicine works to stimulate the qi or energy of your body to regulate its naturally occurring hormones. It effectively treats Amenorrhoea by balancing the underlying issues that cause it, not just the superficial symptoms.
What Is Amenorrhoea?
It is when your period is absent. It can be a case of primary Amenorrhoea or Secondary Amenorrhoea, with Secondary Amenorrhoea being the most common diagnosis (Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 2000). Rarely, you can be pregnant.
Primary Amenorrhoea is defined as the absence of menstruation by the age of 14 with no secondary sexual characteristics, or the absence of menstruation by the age of 16 regardless of secondary sexual characteristics. Primary Amenorrhoea is rare and occurs in about only 0.3% of women (Hayden & Balen, 2007).
Secondary Amenorrhoea is the absence of menstruation for the length of at least three previous menstrual cycles, or at least 6 months in a woman who previously had a menstrual cycle and is still in her reproductive years (Speroff & Fritz, 2005).
Hormones And Menstruation
Absent periods are a sign of an underlying imbalance in your body. Your menstrual cycle is regulated by a complex system of messages and functions that are orchestrated by the Endocrine System. The endocrine glands work together to send these messages via hormones and works collectively as a Negative Feedback Mechanism.
Hypothalamus secretes GnRH (gonadotrophin-releasing hormones) that signals the pituitary gland to produce LH (luteinising hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which then tells the ovaries to release oestrogen and progesterone. This complex process is dependent on each step of the feedback mechanism functioning in sequence. Like an orchestra, if one part of the cycle is switched off, the entire cycle is put out (Critchley et al, 2001).
Other specific reasons for which your periods have stopped may be due to a thyroid imbalance, pituitary tumour, pregnancy and polycystic ovaries. Please note you need to have a diagnosis from a doctor, refrain from self-diagnosing with Google. The main causes are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), hypothalmic Amenorrhoea, hyperprolactinemia and premature ovarian failure (ASRM Practice Committee, 2004).
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs Work
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent for re-establishing a menstrual cycle, and have been used for over hundreds of years to treat Secondary Amenorrhoea (Guo, 2007). Fertility Acupuncture reduces stress and improves circulation, especially to your ovaries and uterus (Ge et al, 1982). Chinese herbs nourish your body and reproductive organs directly, they can move blood and stagnant energy locally, as well as providing you overall strength and wellbeing for your body to function holistically. Studies have even shown that fertility drugs such as clomid that force ovulation, have superior results when combined with acupuncture (Xi et al, 1991).
What You Eat Affects Your Period
Nutritional deficiencies affect hormonal production, and long-term cause irregular menstrual cycles and eventually the entire cycle to stop if the body is not getting enough nutrition daily to be able to sustain normal functions. You are what you eat. Eating a wholefood, well-balanced diet will supply you with many nutrients and nourish your body and reproductive system. I recommend you order a full blood examination (FBE) test and one that monitors reproductive hormones through your Doctor or Naturopath to find out if you have any deficiencies or imbalances.
Nutrients & Foods to Get The Period Back
Iron: Studies have shown that women who do not get sufficient amounts of iron can suffer from anovulation (lack of ovulation) and possibly poor egg health, which can inhibit pregnancy at a rate 60% higher than those with sufficient iron stores in their blood. Foods rich in iron are divided into two groups haem (easy to absorb, animal protein) and non-haem (difficult to absorb, plant foods).
Haem iron sources are grass fed, free range organic beef, chicken, eggs, and wild caught salmon.
Non-haem iron rich foods include Chinese red dates, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, beans, nettles, amaranth, dark leafy greens, Turkish dried apricots (unsulphured), seaweed, and quinoa.
Floridax is a great natural iron supplement. In one study with women facing ovulation difficulties, 40% became fertile after iron supplementation.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C from your food improves hormone levels and increases fertility in women. The body requires food sources of vitamin C for proper iron absorption, so be sure to eat a food high in vitamin C when consuming a food high in iron, such as squeezing lemon juice on your steak. Great food sources of vitamin C are fresh, seasonal fruits & vegetables, red bell peppers, oranges, strawberries and hibiscus flower tea. Excess synthetic Vitamin C can reduce your amount of fertile mucus, maximum 1000mg daily (Naish, 2007, p.129).
B Vitamins: Green vegetables are rich in B vitamins, which are necessary for proper hormonal balance. Swiss chard, kale, watercress, seaweed, spirulina, spinach, collard greens, nettles, parsley and basil.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): EFAs are important for hormone production. Many women are low in EFAs, particularly omega 3s. Some foods rich in EFAs are flaxseeds, fresh walnuts, salmon, sardines, halibut, shrimp, snapper, scallops, chia seeds and cod liver oil. Take evening primrose oil, cod liver oil or flaxseed oil.
Cholesterol: Good quality cholesterol and fat is imperative for hormone production! Don’t eat products that are skim or fat-free and eat full-cream dairy sourced from grass-fed animal products. Foods rich in clean cholesterol: grass-fed beef, raw milk from grass-fed cows or goats, whole milk yogurt and kefir, free-range eggs, butter from grass-fed milk (usually organic brands) and coconut oil. Think good quality, healthy fats.
Fibre: Fibre helps to remove excess hormones from the body, which may be causing hormonal imbalance. Fibre also helps to regulate the blood sugar levels, which helps to reduce fertility issues such as PCOS, immunological issues, and promotes healthy hormonal balance. Some examples of high fibre foods are fresh fruits and vegetables (especially the skin), dark leafy greens, and legumes.
Zinc: This is just one of the minerals that the body uses to keep hormone levels (like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) levels stable throughout the entire menstrual cycle. It is especially important during follicular development and endometrial thickening. The richest source of Zinc are oysters, but some easy to find sources are raw, organic pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and tahini sesame seed butter.
Wholefood Multivitamin: A great way to support the body in getting all the necessary nutrients it needs daily is a wholefood multivitamin, along with eating a good quality, wholefoods diet, is the first step in getting your period back.
Work with your GP
Consider seeing your Doctor and Health Practitioner if you have not had a period in three consecutive cycles. They can help you to determine what the cause may be. Doctors will often prescribe oral contraceptives (birth control pill) to force menstruation. Know that this method will force the body to have a cycle and prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives do not solve the problem of why the menstrual cycle is absent to begin with.
Tell your GP that you are using natural therapies such as herbs, specific massage techniques, Acupuncture, supplements, stress reduction techniques and dietary changes then can help support the body in regulating the menstrual cycle in most cases.
Aim for a healthy BMI (18.5-25)
There is a direct link between anovulation (no ovulation) and obesity in women. Body fat cells, called adipocytes produce estrogen. Obese women may have too much oestrogen due to too much body fat.
Women who are underweight may also have anovulation due to lack of body fat, hence a deficiency of oestrogen where not enough oestrogen or adequate cholesterol levels are being maintained to create a menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that women with extreme exercise habits have significantly lower levels of oestradiol (oestrogen) due to low levels of body fat in key areas of the body, leading to anovulation. Oestrogen is essential for healthy bone formation, healthy gene expression, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and is vital for a healthy menstrual cycle. Too much oestrogen, or too little in the body may cause the negative feedback mechanism to dysfunction and the menstrual cycle can cease.
Herbs to Promote Menstruation
Chinese herbs can support your body to start menstruating again. These herbs are called emmenagogues, they stimulate and normalise the menstrual cycle. The type used and quantity will vary on your specific situation. Angelica acutiloboa (Dang Gui) and Vitex Agnus Castus (Man Jing Zi) are common herbs used.
Nourishing your body with appropriate herbs, lifestyle and food is a safe and effective way to support natural menstrual return and prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. By making your health and fertility a top priority, and doing all you can, your body will respond better to your herbal and acupuncture treatment.
Take your wholefood multivitamin, herbs, manage your stress as best you can and exercise regularly. This combination is a great plan for promoting your body’s natural menstrual cycle long-term. Give yourself time, your body will need three to six months with this treatment to re-establish itself. Be gentle with yourself, and well done for trying to do the best thing for yourself, your body and your family.
- ASRM Practice Committee. Current Evaluation of Amenorrhea. Fertil Steril. 2008;90:3 S219-S225.
- Centre for Reproductive Biology, The University of Edinburgh, UK. Hilary.Critchley@ed.ac.uk
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- Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. 27th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2000: 56.
- The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Current evaluation of amenorrhea. Fertil Steril. 2004;82(suppl 1):S33–9.
- Wright KP, JV Johnson. Evaluation of extended and continuous use oral contraceptives. The Clin Risk Manag 2008 October; 4(5): 905–911.
by Ilana Sowter