Pain-free, predictable PMS-nil periods? Does this sound implausible to you? Like something you can only dream of?
Believe it or not, this is actually the definition of a healthy menstrual cycle and it’s what traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is helping thousands of women worldwide achieve every day.
“Scores of women struggle with menstrual issues and feel powerless to do anything to about it – or don’t know there’s anything they can do,” says Rebecca Sheather, acupuncturist and herbalist and women’s health expert at Central Coast Body Mechanics. “Yet menstrual problems such as pain and irregularity are symptoms of an imbalance in the body. Traditional Chinese medicine is masterful at bringing the body into balance in a gentle way and when the body is in balance, the menstrual cycle becomes regular and symptom-free.”
TCM can help with any aspect of menstruation including endometriosis, amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation), menorrhagia (heavy menstrual flow with severe cramping), natural fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects 12-18 per cent of women of reproductive age in Australia, according to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, yet many women are unaware that there are non-medical treatments that can assist.
TCM is particularly relevant for women who want to play a part in their own health, wellness and fertility.
“It’s empowering for the individual because they take a very active part in the treatment,” Rebecca says.
“The treatment plan is based on teamwork between the individual and the practitioner: no longer are you putting your wellness in the hands of someone else – you are participating in your journey to optimal reproductive health.”
A typical initial intake session with Rebecca entails lengthy conversations about all aspects of your general health. Imbalances in your body, health and life in general are sought out – for example in diet/nutrition, stress and lifestyle factors, emotions and genetic factors – as these can all impact the menstrual cycle.
Education is given about what a healthy menstrual cycle looks like. “People learn so much,” Rebecca says. “I love watching women become empowered by what they learn about their own bodies, and simple ways in which they can help themselves.”
TCM is always about the individual – there is not one treatment for one problem. Every problem is seen in the context of the individual who has the problem.
Rebecca devises an individual TCM treatment plan along with a plan for you and the supporting actions you’ll take.
Becoming an active part in your treatment starts with a commitment to having acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, includes making changes to your diet and lifestyle and implementing self-care practices.
“Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic healing modality: we are getting to the core of what’s wrong and reigniting the menstrual system to work in the way it should have been working in the first place,” Rebecca says. The aim of TCM isn’t to specifically address the symptom. The symptom is viewed as a sign that something is out of balance.
TCM aims to bring balance to the body and bring the whole body to optimum health so the symptom or problem ceases the exist.
“The human body can easily be tripped out of balance by things like poor nutrition, stress or medication, and it can very easily be brought back into balance with traditional Chinese medicine,” Rebecca says.
“I get so much joy out of seeing someone with a chronic problem – like amenorrhoea after being on the contraceptive pill – going from losing faith that they’ll ever have a baby to falling pregnant naturally and having a healthy baby,” Rebecca says.
“I see many women with PCOS with significant mood fluctuations and the stress of not knowing when and if they’re going to get their next period, to menstruating regularly and feeling good again. This brings so much balance to other aspects of their life.”
She says endometriosis is a condition that can be very disruptive to a woman’s life but can respond well to treatment with acupuncture and herbal medicine. “Women with endometriosis usually experience severe pain which means they have to have time off work and the severe hormonal fluctuations can often bring a dark depression at different times of their cycle,” Rebecca says. “It’s very satisfying to see women out of pain and feeling more balanced in their moods.”
Severe PMS can also be debilitating with mood swings, fluid retention, headache, fatigue and acne. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can stimulate biochemical processes to bring the cycle back to balance so these symptoms can cease to be an issue.
Rebecca’s approach is natural fertility and pre-conception care is to spend three months getting a woman’s body (and male’s body, if her partner is on board) into the best possible state to conceive. This involves creating optimum health and vitality in the woman’s body so the egg and womb are in the most healthy state possible.
“This is also a good time to improve sperm health as sperm is regenerated every 90-100 days,” Rebecca says.
“The goal is not to just get pregnant but to also enjoy a successful pregnancy and birth a healthy baby.”
Each of these treatment plans entails nutrition, acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
If you have any menstrual problem you’d like to seek Rebecca’s help with, you can make an appointment with Rebecca by clicking on Online Booking button on our home page at www.ccbodymechanics.com.au
In the mean time, you can getting started on your journey to a healthy reproductive system and menstrual cycle by tracking your cycle, flow and symptoms. Rebecca recommends her clients use Fertility Friend. This will help you see trends and patterns in your cycles.
Rebecca Sheather is a mother of two and has been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine for 13 years. She has spent the majority of this time focusing on women’s reproductive health. “I’m in awe of the capabilities of a woman’s body – our bodies are absolutely amazing,” she says.
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