You can Help your Body during your Period Cycle

The first part of your menstrual cycle is from day one of menstruation until ovulation, approx. 14 days, assuming a 28-day cycle and can be broken down into two phases - your menstruation (period) and follicular phase. In Chinese Medicine, they are known as the yin phase of your cycle.


The second part of your cycle goes from ovulation until day one of menstruation, approx. 14 days. This is known as the luteal phase and in Chinese Medicine, this is the yang phase of your cycle.


MENSTRUATION (PERIOD)


One thing I always personally thought was that your period marked the end of your cycle, but really Day 1 starts on the first day of your period. Your body has prepared itself for a possible pregnancy in the previous cycle, and the uterus lining became thinker and richer in blood vessels. If pregnancy does not occur, this thickened lining is shed, accompanied by bleed and thus starts day one of the new cycle and makes way for the formation of new blood.


Bleeding usually lasts about 4 to 5 days, and during this phase, the blood needs to move out smoothly and with no pain, and then near the end of the cycle, the body needs to begin to build back yin and blood.


What you can do to help your body:

The main focus during your period is to Move and begin to Nourish Blood and Yin.


Move

  • Avoid strenuous exercises - instead do gentle light exercise like yoga or walking, as it is important to move

  • Keep warm - use a heating pad if you need to help the blood move more smoothly

Nourish Blood and Yin

  • Stay hydrated - warm/hot water is recommended

  • Eat cooked warm foods - like bone broth soups and stews, as cold raw foods or drinks can impede the blood flow and create stagnation (as seen with typical cramps)

  • Dark leafy greens help nourish blood so start including this at the end of your cycle


FOLLICULAR PHASE


After your period is done, your body needs to start building back the uterus lining and the follicles develop preparing the body again for a possible pregnancy. At this stage, blood continues to be built along with yin and essence, both of which are a part of blood.


This is an important phase as our bodies are relatively deficient, due to the loss of menstrual blood, and it is important to allow time to rebuild blood and yin, by allowing time for rest and regeneration. At the end of the follicular phase, we will begin to see clear stretchy cervical mucus being produced which is a sign ovulation is about to occur.


What you can do to help your body:

The main focus during the follicular phase is to Nourish Blood and Yin.


Rest

  • Really listen to your body and allow time to rest and regenerate, as yin is damaged by overwork, excess thinking and stress

  • Avoid strenuous exercises - instead do gentle light exercise like yoga or walking, as lack of exercise is not good either, but over-exercising can weaken an already weakened body

  • Get enough sleep

Nourish Blood and Yin

  • Stay hydrated - warm/hot water is recommended

  • Eat cooked warm foods - like bone broth soups and stews, and foods that are fresh and in season

  • Continue to eat dark leafy greens and high-quality proteins


OVULATION


The yin cycle is reaching the end and can be seen with good quality cervical mucus - egg white consistency. The yang energy is about to take over, and is the opposite of the yin nourishing and moistening, and is about active and warm. The warmth of the yang energy helps the release of the mature egg, which happens on day 14. The egg enters the fallopian tube where fertilization may take place, and if the egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates after about 24 hours.


During this phase, it is important to help promote the transition of yin to yang.


What you can do to help your body:

The main focus of the ovulation phase is Movement and Warmth.


Movement

  • Do exercises that stretch the hips and move the pelvic area, to help increase the blood flow to this area.

  • Keep the body moving to help with your mental health and avoid stress

Warm the Body

  • Stay hydrated - warm/hot water is recommended

  • All food cooked and warm, cooking food increases yang Qi in the foods, even steaming your vegetables is a great way to at warmth to your body

  • Eat less and ensure you have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables


LUTEAL PHASE


After the release of the egg, if fertilization has occurred the body continues to produce progesterone to prevent the endometrial lining from being shed. If fertilization has not occurred, the progesterone levels start to drop and signal the shedding of the lining.


Regardless of which root, the yang energy is needed to help either the growth of the fetus and hold it in place or helps with the release of the lining. Thus this phase is all about warmth, and the movement and strengthening of your body's energy.


What you can do to help your body:

The main focus during the luteal phase is to Promote Yang (Movement) and Move Qi and Blood.


Movement (Promote Yang)

  • If you are NOT trying to get pregnant then intense exercise is appropriate a week out from your period - you need to move during this phase, but ensure you get adequate rest as well, all it is all about balance

  • Even intense walking for 30 minutes is a great option

  • Living and working in cold damp environments can damage yang, as it needs warmth

Move Qi and Blood

  • All food cooked and warm, cooking food increases yang Qi in the foods, even steaming your vegetables is a great way to at warmth to your body

  • Add warming and moving spices to your food, for example - ginger, cinnamon, cayenne


By becoming more aware of your period cycle, not just when you would like to conceive, you can help your body become stronger all the time and prevent future illnesses or disharmonies in the body.


To find out more about how acupuncture and/or cupping can help your period cycle please do not hesitate to reach out to me.


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