Pain, bloating, headaches, migraines, bad moods, cravings for sugar, backache, tearfulness, flooding, diarrhoea, spots, and hot flushes, are just some of the commonly experienced problems that occur for women around the time of their period.

We live in a fast-paced unrecognisable world from the one 2500 years ago when Chinese medicine was developing theories on the menstrual cycle. Today we may be able to buy apps for them, stop them, and miss them, but in the long run, the monthly cycle is still there. By listening to it, following it, paying attention to it and changing habits accordingly it can become a part of life that isn’t so cumbersome and dreaded. Doing it well can contribute to our health and well-being.

We have 500 of the bloody things (no pun there) over a lifetime so surely it’s worth getting them right?

A common choice is painkillers or taking contraception. This works for many and long may that continue. But some women don’t want to take pills or hormones, they feel bonkers enough. Many just suffer through it, are glad when it’s done, forget for a few weeks and then dread it as the time comes around again.

In Chinese medicine, problems at a period time and with periods are a sign of underlying imbalance and give clear indications to the health of that woman. Therefore clear signals mean clear approaches to improving the problems. In the clinic problems with periods are one of the best and most successful problems I treat. Women often come for a condition unrelated to their menstrual cycle but report that this is an area that has changed and changed for the better since having regular treatment.

With so many women suffering so needlessly I want to encourage more to try acupuncture to get it right and stop it being a monthly grind.

As well as acupuncture there are some good rules from Chinese medicine to follow that can help with even looking at a needle.

REST

Don’t sleep ALL day but while you are on your period your body is losing some of its vital energy. You need to balance this with plenty of rest to not overtax the body. So give yourself a break from the gym, stop running for a few days and definitely no hot yoga or swimming! Use it as a time to go to bed early and catch up on your sleep.

DIET

Sugar is usually the first port of call when pre-menstrual and when the period starts. It’s hard but it has to be avoided, it wreaks havoc on the rising and falling of blood sugar, massively contributing to feeling bloated and sluggish. Try, try, try to replace with natural alternatives honey, fruit, apricots, and dates. I know! Easier said than done but try cutting out processed sugar from your diet and you’ll be amazed how the peaks and troughs and cravings for food diminish. During your period it’s all about the eggs. Great food to replenish all the energy you’ll be losing.

ALCOHOL

Plenty of warm drinks and stay away from the alcohol, the sugar alone will do you no favours. Just before periods women are often hot and can often sweat. Drinking alcohol puts heat into the body and therefore makes the feelings of rising heat worse and dehydrates the body and skin.

KNOW YOUR CYCLE

It was only after having children I actually started to write down when my period started and take note of this on a regular basis. It works wonders for planning ahead, checking if any irregularities are occurring and knowing why you may be feeling slightly unhinged. If you’re wanting to get pregnant it’s essential to know you’re cycling and when it’s your fertile time.