Ovulation is the key event of a woman’s monthly hormonal cycle. Bleeding from a period is the most outward sign of a menstrual cycle but it is really just a by-product of the hormonal shifts and changes that have occurred surrounding ovulation. When you ovulate determines the length of your cycle, and how efficiently you ovulate can provide information on the health of your reproductive system.
Ovulation is the term for when an egg is released by a follicle on the ovary. It is necessary for conception to occur, and most women do not realize they have any issues with ovulation until they have trouble conceiving. Because there are so many (literally thousands) of events and details playing out during a menstrual cycle, timing becomes a major concern for the body to successfully maintain balanced hormones. If ovulation occurs too early or too late or if there are too few days after ovulation known as a luteal phase defect, it may cause an irregular cycle length and/or an infertile cycle. It is an obvious red flag that some degree of hormone imbalance has occurred. Taking birth control pills will not correct the hormone imbalance but it will mask its presence and make the periods regular.
What can Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture do to help?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs offers a natural approach to correcting ovulation disorders and balancing hormones throughout the cycle. Acupuncture can help increase blood flow to the ovary so that the eggs and follicles are getting fresh nutrients and a sufficient supply of hormones. Acupuncture points can also be used to reduce stress and promote hormonal balance. Herbal medicine can be used to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs and to support the endocrine system. Chinese herbs are prescribed specifically for each individual depending on their own unique pattern of symptoms.
How many treatments will I need?
Ovulation disorders respond to treatment within 3-6 months. Most women will begin to notice positive changes within the first month of acupuncture treatment and/or taking herbal medicine. Each treatment plan will be designed specifically for each woman. An example of a basic treatment protocol for ovulation disorders would be to treat once a week for the first two months and then to drop the number of treatments down to just two treatments before ovulation.
What other tools will I be given to enhance the treatments?
Diet often plays a role in hormone imbalance. Getting a well-balanced diet of proteins, complex carbs, fresh fruits and vegetables is the cornerstone for health in general and particularly important for more fragile systems such as reproduction. There are some things to watch out for as well such as getting too much soy which can have an estrogenic effect in the body and in excessive amounts can throw off ovulation. It will be important for you to discuss your current dietary habits with your acupuncturist during your initial consultation.
Stress reduction is also very important for regulating the menstrual cycle. Stress can cause the release of certain chemicals in the body which can interrupt the release of hormones. Learning relaxation techniques may be appropriate for some people struggling with chronic stress or anxiety. Acupuncture also has a very relaxing effect on the nervous system and patients leave the clinic feeling very calm and rejuvenated.
Good sleep is also critical for hormone balance. If you are not sleeping well, your biorhythms will be out of synch and dynamic systems like the reproductive system will be unable to stay on track. During your initial consultation you will learn about good sleep hygiene and if any sleeping disorders are an issue, they will be addressed in your treatment plan with acupuncture and/or herbs.