What Amenorrhea Is and How It Affects Fertility
Amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstruation in a pre-menopausal woman. If no menstruation occurs by age 16, it is called “primary amenorrhea.” Whereas “secondary amenorrhea” is the stoppage of menstruation for more than three months when there is no confirmed pregnancy, menopause, or breast feeding involved. Secondary amenorrhea can be caused by elevated prolactin or androgens, Hypothyroidism, Hypopituitarism, extreme exercise, extreme weight loss or eating disorders, stress or psychological disorders, or improper functioning of the ovaries. The most common symptoms are the cessation of menses, nausea, swollen breasts, headaches, and goiters.
Since normal menstrual cycles are based on a feedback system between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, ovaries and the reaction of the uterine lining to stimulation, the goal of any treatment would be to restore this feedback system. There are many hormones involved in ensuring a proper menstruation can take place, such as: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin, estrogen, progesterone, androgen, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Treat Amenorrhea
In Chinese medicine the most important organs that regulate blood and menstruation are the liver, spleen, and kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for conception, reproduction, and egg quality. The spleen and liver control the amount of nutrients and the smooth flow of the hormones. Patients are treated based on an individualized assessment of their particular condition and custom tailors an appropriate and effective treatment plan. Your treatment plan will usually combine acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and a nutritional evaluation.
Acupuncture promotes proper hormonal balance and regulates the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis by stimulating blood flow to the reproductive organs and the brain. It also relaxes the body and reduces stress levels. Elevated stress can prohibit menstruation by blocking blood flow to the reproductive organs and causing an imbalance in hormonal production.
Using Chinese Herbs
Chinese Herbs are highly individualized and help build the uterine lining and adjust the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis. This rebalance helps regulate and improve the body’s natural hormonal production which in turn aids in proper menstruation. And, Chinese herbs nourish the spleen, liver, and kidney system which are responsible for our reproductive health.
Chinese Nutritional Evaluation
A nutritional evaluation is customized for each patient based on the health of her kidney, liver, and spleen functions, which control our reproductive health and underlie our metabolic processes. For patients with Amenorrhea, we recommend eating a quality diet of whole grains, organic vegetables and fruits, lean meats, and less sugar and junk food to help balance the hormones and restore proper menstrual function. Additionally, you should increase your intake of calcium, vitamins A, C, D, E, K, boron, zinc, selenium, B6, and essential fatty acids.