Menstruation : Your Winter
Menstruation is your body’s monthly pause to check-in with yourself, consider the events of your previous cycle, and let go. Some call it the winter of your monthly seasons.
This is a complex phase in one’s cycle. As our bodies shed the endometrium from the previous cycle to start anew, we may feel many emotions based on where we’re at in our life. If one’s hoping to conceive, menstruation can bring along sadness and grief. On the contrary, for someone not hoping for a pregnancy, menstruation can be a relief. For ones experiencing severe discomfort during menstruation, their period can be a nuisance. It doesn’t help that the days prior to menstruation, estrogen and progesterone collapse to their lowest levels. During the premenstrual period, we may feel emotionally raw, exhausted, bloated, tender, and anxious. The start of our period can serve as a reminder to turn inwards, tend to ourselves, let go and cleanse, both physically and emotionally.
Menstruation typically takes place on Days 1-5 of one’s cycle, Day 1 being the experience of menstruation in full flow. On Day 1, one cycle concludes with the discarding of unused endometrium, and another begins with the signals sent to the ovary to start ripening more eggs. The endometrium is covered in spiral shaped blood vessels. During menstruation, these little spirals can constrict which causes a lack of blood flow to the area and the tissue to atrophy due to lack of nourishment. Following this, new blood vessels pop up, pushing the necrotic tissue out, along with blood and other uterine fluids. On average, 30-40 ml of blood is shed per period, and half of this volume is tissue fluids from the endometrium. During menstruation, our bodies release oxytocin and endorphins – pain relieving hormones, to offer ease.
From a TCM perspective, on Day 1, Yang energy switches to Yin as the Chong Vessel starts to empty. The focus here should be to regulate the movement of Qi and Blood, for a smooth menstruation. It is important that the uterus is flushed fully each cycle before the body focuses on building up the new endometrium. Following the period, the building of Yin and Blood begins until the Chong Mai is filled again.
As we bleed, our psyche draws inward, we may feel vulnerable and may have difficulties focusing on the world outside. Our modern world is not set up to support the brilliant nuances of the menstrual cycle. We become disconnected from our body’s power when we load up on painkillers to push through our bleed, or pay no attention to it at all.
Menstruation is a particularly good time to set boundaries, so you can tend to your needs. Invitation here to rest to gather energy, so you can burst with life later. Nourish your body with iron rich foods to prevent exhaustion. During menstruation, our intuition runs high. This is when we receive teachings within the Yin, especially when we quiet the outside noise and listen. As your body goes through a release, you can tap into this power emotionally and mentally to let go of beliefs, ideals, and goals that no longer serve you. Taking time to journal, sipping on some broth, while resting with a heat pad can be a simple way of honouring our winter. Acupuncture can also be a powerful ally to ease any discomforts, and to support your upcoming cycle.
Being in sync with our natural flow is possible, please reach out with questions and comments. I would love to support you in finding ease and rhythm in your cycle!
“When the heart is serene, pain seems negligible.”
~ Inner Classic