How does acupuncture help regulate a period?
Acupuncture has the ability to influence hormone messengers from the brain, which then communicate with the ovaries. We see a lot of women with irregular periods or no periods at all. Having a regular period is an indication of a healthy endocrine system. If there are long delays or the cycles comes to frequently or doesn’t come at all, it generally indicates a hormonal imbalance which can almost always be helped. For those that are trying to start a family this can be incredibly frustrating and causes more stress in the body, which can further delay the cycle.
First, a quick biology lesson. Women are able to have periods because they possess a vital and powerful organ: the uterus: commonly know as the womb. In the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the uterus is categorised into a group known as the 6 curious organs.
The uterus is lined with endometrial tissue that thickens and then sheds in response to hormonal changes. Shifts in hormones are driven by a feedback loop between the brain, the ovaries, and the uterus. At the beginning of each cycle (when the period starts) hormone levels are at their lowest point. This signals the deep brain to initiate the process of helping an egg to mature in the ovary through the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). An egg within the ovary responds to FSH and begins to develop, releasing oestrogen. Oestrogen levels increase as the egg develops and activates thickening of the uterine lining. Once oestrogen reaches an optimal level, it triggers the brain to release another hormone to trigger ovulation. The egg explodes from the ovary in response to a pulse of Luteinising Hormone (LH) and leaves behind a small cyst that releases progesterone. Progesterone helps to keep the lining thick and able to support conception, should an embryo implant. If conception doesn’t occur, the progesterone releasing cyst will begin to dissolve, progesterone levels will drop, and the lining will begin to shed shortly thereafter. This is the menstrual period.
As you can see, there are many places where the cycle can go awry and disrupt the frequency of one’s period. If an egg doesn’t develop, then ovulation and uterine lining development is hindered. If there’s no ovulation, then there will be no period. Ensuring these important stages of the cycle happen are vital to regular cycles and fertility. Here are three ways in which acupuncture can help you have regular periods.
Acupuncture regulates the hormones that control your period: As noted above, several hormones ensure the regular periods. One way acupuncture can assist with regulating periods is by regulating the feedback loop between the brain and the ovaries, also known as the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian (HPO) axis. If the hormones are balanced, then the HPO axis will function properly, ovulation will occur, and menses will follow suit on a regular interval. Studies found acupuncture reduced FSH and elevated levels of hormones that block ovulation.
Acupuncture improves ovarian and uterine blood flow: One of the ways acupuncture can support hormone regulation, and its ultimate impact on hormone balance, is by improving ovarian and uterine blood flow. High levels of stress and ageing can decrease the flow of nutrient dense blood to the reproductive organs. Acupuncture calms the nervous system and causes the blood vessels to dilate, thereby increasing the flow of blood. Well-nourished ovaries function more efficiently. And, adequate blood flow to the uterus ensures the endometrial lining is able to grow to an appropriate thickness to allow for menses.
Acupuncture promotes ovulation: As noted above, acupuncture regulates hormones and improves blood flow to the reproductive organs, which leads to a cascade of other effects. When the hormones are balanced and blood is flowing openly to the ovaries and uterus, then acupuncture can support ovulation to naturally occur. Further, with the HPO axis communication open, the ovaries will then support the maturation of an egg, ovulation will naturally occur, and ultimately menses will follow 14 days later if there is no pregnancy.
Whilst acupuncture can successfully regulate hormones, bare in mind there can be some side effects from acupuncture. These include deeper sleep, improved digestive system, a more relaxed nervous system, a stronger immune system and a decrease in joint pain. So really there is no need to worry about acupuncture, only worry why you haven’t started yet. Come in and see us or send us an email with a enquiry if you are keen to know more.