Absence of menstrual periods, can acupuncture help?
Absence of menstrual periods and acupuncture treatment
Regular menstrual periods are a sign of well functioned reproductive system in women. Menstrual cycles are very important in women not only for reproduction but also for general health. If a woman’s periods are missing, this could cause infertility as well as some other health problems such as cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis.
Absence of menstruation is called amenorrhea in medical field which is a condition that menstrual periods have stopped for more than three cycles. This is not rare condition and many factors affect menstruation. If your periods are missing, If your periods disappeared for some time, you need to get it checked with your doctor and you need to rule out of pregnancy and menopause depending on your age. If you are not pregnant and you don’t have periods, it is most likely that your ovary is not working.
Common conditions that could cause absent periods are those affecting hypothalamus, pituitary gland, ovarian axis. These cause hormonal level changes responsible for reproductive function. For example, extreme weight loss, emotional or physical stress, high intensive exercise and severe illness could affect the hypothalamus and cause absent periods; pituitary gland conditions lead to increasing level of hormone prolactin, hypothyroidism causing missing periods; If you are under extreme stress, this could be the reason for disappeared periods. Though it has long been recognised, there are no specific diagnostic tests for this and diagnosis is usually made by exclusion. The mechanisms how psychological stress affects the women’s period cycle are still not clear. But it is widely accepted that it is linked to hypothalamic pituitary axis. In the situation of stress, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) production from hypothalamus is increased. The effects of increased CRH on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis reduce circulating luteinising hormone (LH) levels. Absence of period cycle caused by psychological stress may last from a few months to many years. Women with stress related absence of period cycle have increased basal plasma cortisol and decrease response to CRH administration. In many cases, normal periods return after the psychological problems are overcome. But in other cases, missing periods could cause new stress and help is needed to get periods return.
Ovarian conditions can also cause absence of periods, which include premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovary syndrome. It is very common that menstrual period does not return after stop taking contraceptive pills in three months. Infertility is one of the complications of absence of periods. Treatments are also depending on the causes. Correcting hormone imbalance is the target of the treatments to reestablish menstrual cycles and prevent complications.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), missing periods are divided into five types according to the symptoms:
1 kidney and liver deficiency, symptoms include missing menstrual periods or light or less frequent periods, feeling week, lower back pain, dizziness, tinnitus, red tongue and week pulse.
2 qi and blood deficiency, symptoms include missing menstrual periods, dizziness, blur vision, short of breath, tiredness, pale, light tongue and week pulse.
3 yin deficiency, symptoms include missing menstrual periods, hot flashes, fever, night sweating, cough with blood, red tongue, week pulse.
4 qi and blood stasis, symptoms include missing menstrual periods, depression, feeling anger, feeling bloated, lower tummy pain, dark tongue, floating pulse.
5 dampness and phlegm blockage, obesity, cough with phlegm, swelling, excessive vaginal discharge, thick tongue coating, and slippery pulse.
Acupuncture could help correcting hormonal imbalance, reducing stress level and resuming menstrual cycles by stimulating nerve ends at particular acupuncture points and improving hypothalamus function.
There were some researches showing that effectiveness of acupuncture on resuming menstruations. Here are some examples.
There was a study with women with premature ovarian failure. 11 women had absence of periods. They received 3 month acupuncture treatments. 10 women had resumed their periods.
There was a random control clinical trials with women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. 16 weeks of acupuncture treatment, menstruation frequency is increased.
There was a case report from China. In this report, 33 women aged from 23 -45 had absence of periods for 3 months to 3 years. They were received acupuncture treatments and 29 women out of 33 resumed their periods; 4 women did not respond to acupuncture treatments. About 63% had regular periods during the course of 6 months followup and about 24% had irregular periods during that time.
Stop taking the pills and no periods, acupuncture could help
When will your periods come back after you stop taking the pills? This is a good question. This is may vary depending on individuals. It could take a while for your periods to come back after you stop taking the pill. Most women will have a period two to four weeks after stopping the pill. It could take longer. Your periods may not be regular when you first stop the pills and this could take six months to become normal again. If your periods never come back, this may suggest a problem in your ovaries and you need to see your doctor to investigate what is wrong. Contraceptive pills suppress ovulation and follicle developments. Acupuncture could help ovarian blood flow to help restoring ovarian function when stopping the pills. Regular periods indicate that your ovaries are functioning well. If your ovaries are functioning well, your periods would come back and become regular.
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