Most of the time, periods aren’t a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, as women, it is something we have to go through every month. Periods are important, though, because menstruation is our body’s way of cleansing and flushing out toxins naturally.
Irregular periods happen when our period cycles are too long or too short. This may be disconcerting and worrisome, but know that there are alternative remedies to help, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments, that can bring your period woes to an end.
On average, a period cycle lasts about 28 days, although it is perfectly normal for it to last a little shorter or longer than this.
Generally, the main symptom of an irregular period is the varied length of the cycle or an unusually long cycle, but there could also be changes in blood flow or clots that are more than 2.5 cm in diameter.
Amenorrhoea is a phenomenon where one’s period stops coming completely. An absence of a period for 90 days or more is considered to be abnormal unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or undergoing menopause. Amenorrhoea also applies to those who haven’t started menstruating by age 15 or 16 or 3 years after breast development.
Oligomenorrhoea, on the other hand, refers to periods that are infrequent. In this case, one only experiences about 4 to 9 periods per year. 
Read also: How does TCM help with amenorrhea in teens?
Oligomenorrhoea could be a sign of a disease. The following could be reasons for oligomenorrhea: 
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a form of alternative medicine that dates as far back as the Han dynasty, over 23 centuries ago. Performed by licensed practitioners, TCM uses the concept of Qi as a force of life that can be regulated to prevent or treat diseases and ailments. Qi is altered by the complementary forces Yin and Yang, which can be manipulated through the use of traditional treatments such as acupuncture, cupping, tui na (massage) or a multitude of herbal remedies. 
TCM views irregular periods to be caused by deficient blood production due to an exhaustion in essence and blood that weakens the body. There may be blood stasis or stagnation of blood flow and dampness that obstructs channels in the body. 
TCM also regards irregular periods as an imbalance between the Yin and Yang of important organs, namely the spleen, kidney and liver. 
A period cycle can be viewed in four phases:
There is a descending flow of energy and old blood is expelled while new blood regenerates.
New blood and essence needs to fill the space in the body, and this can be done by strengthening the digestive system or kidneys.
This is an increase in kidney function that stimulates the ovaries for ovulation.
The yang energy from the kidney facilitates the implantation of the fertilised egg. In the event where there is no implantation, the yang energy peaks and then declines as menstruation begins again.
Irregular periods are when there are deviations from the above phases. Acupuncture can help to maintain regular period cycles.
Acupuncture through the use of needles on acupoints of meridians can stimulate the flow of energy and blood, enabling smooth flow of Qi in the body and organs to improve blood circulation.
Some important meridians include:
This vessel runs up the pubic area to the mouth and is important for pregnancy and often used to treat irregular periods.
This meridian is yang in nature, running from the tailbone up the midline of the back to the head. This vessel facilitates the body’s Yin-Yang balance.
This meridian passes through the uterus. It can be used to treat period or infertility problems, and is also used for digestive and respiratory issues.
This meridian is used for reproductive issues and also muscular weakness.
Western medicine views the period cycle in two phases: The follicular phase (dominated by estrogen) and the luteal phase (dominated by progesterone).
Two areas of the brain influence your period — the hypothalamus and the pituitary — which control the release of hormones during your period. Western medicine believes that imbalances in the hormones may cause irregular periods. 
TCM views the period cycle in four phases: Blood, Yin, Yang and Qi.
This is the menstruation phase where blood should be nourished and Qi-circulating acupuncture points are avoided. Vigorous activities and stimulating foods should be avoided too. Herbs can help during this phase.
There is an increase in estrogen during this time, which causes the lining of the uterus to thicken and the follicles to develop. Protein and mineral-rich foods (such as meats, eggs, leafy greens) can be consumed to replenish the blood and Yin.
In this stage, the body shifts from building the uterine walls to preparing for implantation. If there is no fertilisation, the uterus prepares to shed its lining.
The levels of estrogen drop drastically and so do serotonin levels, which may result in a depressed mood or post-menstrual syndrome.
Mood swings, as well as physical symptoms of breast tenderness and bloating, are caused by Qi stagnation. Acupuncture points that circulate and smooth the Qi help to improve these symptoms.
Acupuncture activates the “energy gateways” to help with the stagnation of Qi or clear blockages in the body’s meridians. This stimulates energy and blood supply to improve blood circulation in the body.
Acupuncture can help increase energy levels and strengthen the immune system. Pathogens that disharmonise the body are eliminated.
When there is harmony between the Yin and Yang, or passive and active forces in the body, there will be improved health.
Acupuncture is also known to regulate the feedback loop between your brain and your ovaries known as the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian (HPO) axis. 
The Sichuan Lovage Rhizome or Chuan Xiong is a powerful herb that helps blood to flow properly in the body, preventing blood stasis that can cause irregular menstruation. Western medicine views it to be anti-inflammatory, anti-spastic and an analgesic. 
Ding Jing Tang is a Chinese medicinal formula often used for Qi stagnation in the liver or kidney deficiencies to treat irregular menstruation. The herbal ingredients of Ding Jing Tang include: Chinese Dodder Seeds, White Peony root, Chinese Angelica Root and Cooked Rehmannia. 
Xiao Tao San (Free Wanderer Powder) can regulate liver qi and the blood while having a cooling effect. 
Some herbal remedies like black cohosh, chasteberry, licorice root and turmeric have been said to help, but their effectiveness has yet to be confirmed. Ginger is often used as a home remedy that relieves post-menstrual syndrome (PMS), but again there is no evidence to back this up. Do check with a doctor regarding what you can or cannot take if you have irregular periods.
You should avoid cold food and drinks, as well as exercise regularly and sleep early to maintain a good menstrual cycle.
Acupuncture for irregular periods cost about $30 to $80. 
Do keep a menstrual calendar so as to describe your period patterns to your practitioner.
There will be an in-depth consultation with an experienced practitioner who will look at your lifestyle and emotional factors to see the cause of the Qi blockage.
Treatment will then involve a multi-prong approach of acupuncture, herbal medicine and lifestyle changes. 
Yoga has been shown to help with irregular periods , as with other forms of exercise.
A study done on 220 participants showed that those who have a normal BMI are less likely to be affected by irregular periods as compared to those who were overweight.  Therefore, maintaining a healthy body weight is important to prevent irregular periods.
Irregular periods can be worrying, but acupuncture and herbal medicines might just be the answer for you, along with proper lifestyle practices. It is always important to stay active, maintain a nutrition-rich diet, and keep your stress levels manageable. With the right treatment and guidance, you can get your menstrual cycle back to normal in no time.
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