Nicole Fillion-Robin, LAc, MAcOM, Dipl. OM
I don’t know about you, but I was in my late twenties when I finally discovered what a period cycle looked like, how to count the number of days in it and how to know what the heck was going on with the bleeding/not bleeding libido/lack of libido.
You might have seen one of these charts in 7th/8th grade biology and gone uhhhh.... unhun:
(photo cred to www.medium.com)
A lot of that disconnect, for me, came with me being on hormonal birth control for years and years and not knowing what my regular cycle looked like (and if you are too, no shame!). I switched over to team copper IUD (which has its own pros/cons) and then was faced with figuring out what was normal/abnormal for me.
I’m not going to shame past-me. We’ll throw a lot of the blame on the quality of our sex ed in Texas, and the fact that there is also still some kind of weird stigma about talking about periods, cycles, and libido. That’s not helpful either.
So here goes my best attempt at a Trail Guide to your Uterus, Explained by TCM, with some tips and tricks that work for most.
PS: keep in mind that we’re going to go with the “standard” 28 day cycle here, but all uteruses and bodies vary so you might have a longer or shorter cycle and that’s fine, too!
PPS: it’s SO normal for cycles NOT to be “normal” in your early menstruating years or after major events like stopping birth control, a miscarriage, the end of breastfeeding, an abortion, etc.
ONE MORE SIDENOTE: You might notice that I am really excited about seed cycling, noted by the “SEEDS!” section in each week. Seed cycling is the most inexpensive-DIY way you can hack your reproductive hormones. It does take about 3-6 months, but is so cheap when you buy those in bulk at your local grocery store. If you’re in more of a hurry to get things stable, regular acupuncture and herbs can help. If you have irregular cycles, TCM will focus on regulating the follicular phase (first two weeks) of your cycle. The rest will come naturally.
WEEK 1: YIN / WINTER
Your cycle starts on the first day of menstruation aka you’re bleeding and not pregnant (exciting! or I’m sorry if you’re in the stage of your life where you might be trying).
WEEK 2: BLOOD / SPRING
Your body is building up that new shiny uterine lining, think of that as a nurturing/yin/blood filled cushion for lil embryos to implant into (not not).
WEEK 3: YANG / SUMMER
Start of the Luteal phase. You’re ovulating this week, you might feel extra sexy or find your partner(s) extra sexy). You might also notice a rise in basal body temperature (BBT). It’s a good time to try to have a baby, or to have fun practicing.
WEEK 4: QI / FALL
Our focus is on qi and movement as your uterus starts to begin shedding its lining (caused by a drop in progesterone). Possible PMS symptoms often come from Liver Qi Stagnation, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, grumpiness. Acupuncture, herbs and movement can help smooth these out.
Let me know if you have any questions! A lot of the adverse symptoms and feelings we have around menstruation and periods are a sign that we need to make some tweaks to your life and I'm so happy to help you brainstorm the best way to do that.