Amenorrhea is a missed period of three months or when a female fails to menstruate at puberty. There are many factors that can cause the period to cease:
- Too much exercise
- Rapid weight loss
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Thyroid Issues
- Low Estradiol Levels
- Pituitary Tumor
- Breast Feeding
Diagnosis and Treatment
When a female has not had her period it is important to rule out pregnancy. If a pregnancy test is negative, the next step is to get tested with a hormone panel and sonogram. Different treatments can be given depending on the diagnosis. For thyroid issues, a synthetic hormone is given. Women are often put on the birth control pill if they do not receive their period. This helps to bring on a period but this is not the female’s “true” menstrual cycle taking place. If a woman is underweight it is important to have enough fat stores in the body for the menstrual cycle to be present. Reduced exercise regiment is given to women who are over exercising.
Another treatment to help bring on the menstrual cycle is Provera. Provera is synthetic progesterone. It is taken for a certain amount of days and when it is stopped it signals the body to shed the uterine lining. The hope is this causes the body to signal the feedback loop to restart the menstrual cycle. This can sometimes happen and sometimes not.
How Does Chinese Medicine Work To Bring On The Period
Chinese Medicine offers a great benefit to females who have the absence of their period. First, let’s break down the menstrual cycle. When pregnancy does not take place, progesterone drops and it signals the feedback loop. When an individual does not have their period, there is pathology in this natural cycle.
Patterns of Amenorrhea in Chinese Medicine
Women who experience low estrogen and can be underweight, have hot flashes or be on the warm side often experiencing night sweats are seen as “yin” deficient. These individuals can see their periods getting lighter and lighter until it finally stops all together. This is a type of fluid insufficiency that is different than hydrating through water. Estrogen is cooling and nourishing. It helps follicle growth as well as helps the uterine lining grow. Women who are yin deficient are dry and therefore there is no “growth” taking place. If the follicle fails to grow, ovulation does not take place and as a result, menses is not present. Chinese Herbs that help replenish the estrogen and fluids, which restore the body’s natural fluids. This is done through herbs, diets and sleep.
Amenorrhea can be due to hormonal imbalances seen as”qi stagnation” in the reproductive system. This can often be due to stress. These individuals may have had bad PMS, headaches before their menstrual cycle as well as cramping before their period starts. Weight gain, bloating and breast tenderness are also signs of qi stagnation. These individuals have a blocked menstruation.
Some women may have a cold environment in their uterus that can also block the menses. Treatment is given to warm the uterus and disinhibit menstrual flow.
The women are dry, with dry hands, feet and skin. Their periods become lighter and eventually stop. Women who are vegetarians are who are underweight fall in this category. They may also experience a thin uterine lining.
Treatment for Amenorrhea with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
The treatment of amenorrhea in Chinese Medicine is looking at the entire individual. A combination of acupuncture, herbs and dietary therapy as well as lifestyle modifications can be given. I am a big fan of Chinese Medicine not only because I am an acupuncturist but also because there are limited treatments to help bring on a period if a woman has low estradiol levels or they are blood deficient. The aim is restoring hormone levels and helping support the natural cycle in a woman’s reproductive system. I normally give my patients a bbt chart to fill out so I can identify their basal body temperature. This is a tool that I use to also diagnose my patients root causes of amenorrhea.
Acupuncture helps to stimulate the “signaling” of the Hypothalamus Pituitary. This helps to activate the secretion of hormones, follicle growth and ovulation. Chinese Herbal medicine in conjunction with acupuncture help to balance hormones, move stuck energy flow in the reproductive system as well as relieve stress. Women with low estradiole levels do very well on herbs since there is no other treatment therapy to help bring on their natural cycle. Dietary and lifestyle recommendations may be needed as well as stress management in certain cases of amenorrhea.
Catherine (patient name is changed for privacy) came into my office. She had lost her period when she was 16 years old when she switch high schools. She described her first year in high school as being stressful and anxious. Catherine was now 22 years old and currently in college where she still had not received her period. She suffered from anxiety, night sweats, was warm at night and acne on her chin and cheeks. She also had bouts of insomnia. Her hormone panel and sonogram showed “normal” test results and the absence of polyps, cysts, and uterine fibroids.
Catherine’s diagnosis was one of kidney and liver yin deficiency heat with a liver qi stagnation. Catherine was dry; she did not have enough fluids for a follicle and uterine lining to grow. Her heat signs were indicative of this. Her acne was indicative of heat as well as a hormonal imbalance. Catherine’s regiment was weekly acupuncture and a customized herbal medicine tea which she drank daily. The result three months later was she got her period. Other symptoms that improved was that she could sleep better, her acne went away and her anxiety was great reduced. She continued the herbs for another two months and a year later she is still getting her period. It fully resumed.
If you have amenorrhea, it is important to first go see your gynecologist for testing. Chinese Medicine is an effective treatment to help resume the period.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at 917.763.8560.