Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
Today's article is about the 4 Best Tips For Self Care During Menstruation
Prioritizing yourself during your menstrual period is so important. During your period there are emotional changes, you’re more sensitive to your environment and you’re more vulnerable to cold, according to Chinese medicine. How well you take care of yourself, particularly at a young age, sets you up for a good reproductive life.
Here are some Chinese medicine tips to ensure you’re getting the best self-care as possible during your menstrual period.
Warmth helps move the blood and too much cold slows down the flow of blood causing blood stagnation. During your menstrual period, we want there to be good smooth flow of Qi (energy) and blood to the uterus. When there is too much cold and not enough warm energy, you can run the risk of having a “cold uterus” and blood stagnation. Some signs that you may have a cold uterus and blood stagnation are if you have painful periods, late cycles, no cycles, irregular cycles, dark menstrual blood, clots in the menstrual blood, lack of ovulation and even fertility issues.
Catching a cold, getting caught in the rain, drinking cold beverages, eating too many cold foods, sitting on cold ground during your menstruation can all cause a cold uterus and blood stagnation.
Here are some simple easy tips to add warmth during this time and avoid having a cold uterus:
- Wear socks & slippers. Avoid walking barefoot on cold tiles.
- Soak your feet in hot water for thirty minutes in the evenings.
- Keep your lower back and lower abdomen warm and covered.
- Have plenty of soups, stews and cooked veggies in your diet
- Avoid smoothies, salads, sushi, ice cream, iced beverages
- Drink hot teas throughout the day
- Don’t swim in cold water
- Avoid sitting on cold ground
- Avoid cold showers
#2 ADEQUATE REST
During your period is a time for rest. I can’t stress this enough. Hard work, strenuous exercise and lack of sleep can exhaust the Qi (energy). Qi leads/moves the blood so if Qi is weak, blood can’t stay in the vessels and will also be weak. The Qi and blood will be too weak to nourish the reproductive organs. This leads to irregular bleeding, very light periods or very heavy periods, or the periods can even stop altogether. Women, especially young girls who are around puberty age should get lots of rest and not try to exercise too much during their periods.
#3 KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS CALM
Try to keep a positive mood as difficult as that can sometimes be, during your period.
Avoid anger and frustration. Try to avoid arguing during your period. Anger causes the Qi to get blocked or stuck. This leads to Liver Qi stagnation. It’s very easy to get Liver Qi stagnation during your period because the blood has already moved away from the liver towards the uterus to get you ready for your period. This lack of nourishment of blood to the liver can make the liver very vulnerable to congestion (Qi stagnation). Some signs that you may have Liver Qi stagnation are extreme PMS irritability and moodiness, breast tenderness, bloating, menstrual headaches, and painful periods.
Avoid worry. In Chinese medicine, worry and overthinking can weaken the spleen. The spleen organ system is in charge of making the Qi and blood. If the speen is weak, your Qi and blood will be weak. This shows up as very light periods, missed periods, delayed periods, fertility issues, anemia and fatigue.
Another interesting thing about the spleen is that it is in charge of holding the blood in the vessels. If the spleen is weak, the blood spills out of the vessels causing very heavy period flow.
#4 GOOD HYGIENE
During your period, your uterus is open and the uterine blood vessels are broken. This makes the uterus more prone to infection and for pathogens to enter. These pathogens can be in our environment like cold, heat, and dampness.
An important tip is to avoid sex during your period. One reason for this is the higher chance of infection. Another reason is that having sex can force the blood and Qi to move upwards opposite to its natural direction. During the period, the energy and blood is flowing downwards to ensure a nice smooth flow of the menstrual blood. If the energy and blood move opposite to this natural direction, it can cause blood stagnation. As said above, blood stagnation leads to painful period cramps, dark blood with clots and not enough old blood and toxins being removed. When there is left over old blood, our bodies can’t generate fresh new blood for our next cycle.
Chinese medicine has so much wisdom to share when it comes to the health of your periods and your reproduction. Try to start implementing these tips and give yourself the best self-care during your periods.
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