According to Eastern Medicine menstruation is a natural process that reflects the overall state of health and balance in a women's body.
If a women's natural cycle is regular and pain free this is an indication that her health and hormones are fairly balanced.
If a woman is having difficulty with fertility, irregularities, pain, or PMS with the rhythms of menstruation, her hormonal system may need re-balancing.
The introduction and use of many contraceptive methods that alter the natural state of hormonal levels in women's bodies may have adverse effects. These effects are beyond the scope of this post but if you are interested in learning more I suggest the book, "Balance your Hormones, Balance your Life" in which the author, Dr. Claudia Welch, cites many academic papers and studies examining risks associated with hormonal birth control methods.
In our fast paced modern world many women experience some level of disharmony related to their cycle. Below I've included a number of simple tips and remedies.
Tips for Hormonal Balance:
1) Track it
The first step in fully understanding imbalance is getting a clear picture of your cycle. Begin by keeping track of your menstruation; how long it lasts, the color and approximate quantity of the blood, and any accompanying symptoms such as pain and moodiness. After a number of cycles a pattern may emerge that will help you and your health care provider form an accurate picture of what is happening.
The key to finding greater hormonal balance is stress management. The female reproductive system is incredibly sensitive. Every woman knows this - we've all experienced changes in our cycles at one time or another due to travel, stress, or illness.
Creating routine, and regular sleeping and eating patterns support the body and encourage relaxation. We also need to find ways to to say no and do less. Other habits like a regular meditation practice and regularly walking in nature attune the energetic body and the nervous system to the cycles of nature.
3) Diet and Supplements
Diet changes can be simple. Avoid refined food and sugar and eats lots of fresh whole vegetables and grains. Start here for more ideas.
If your menstruation is scanty and delayed, you are pale, and you feel fatigued: eat dark green leafy veggies, dark cherry juice and black strap molasses.
If your menstruation is dark, clotted and painful and you feel tense and/or irritable: reduce sugar, dairy, alcohol and coffee. The herbal formula Xiao Yao San may be helpful for you - check with your Chinese Medicine practitioner.
4) Take Care during Menstruation
During menstruation your body is highly sensitive to change, stress, and cold. In order to maintain a free flow of energy, emotion, blood, and fluids at this time avoid stressful work, sexual activity, intense physical exercise (including more active forms of yoga), tampons, and exposure to cold (environments and food).
Acupuncture really shines with issues that require regulating and harmonizing of your physiological system. Regular acupuncture can help to balance the body and mind and helps all of the other changes you are making integrate seamlessly.
Most importantly -- change takes time. Allow yourself at least 2 months of integrating all of the above changes before deciding what is working and what needs adjusting.