Make no mistake, birth control can decrease uncomfortable symptoms associated with menstruation, clear up the skin, and offer an extra layer of contraception. Some forms of birth control seem to assist in regulating the menstrual cycle while others have the side effect of stopping the menses altogether. This may feel like a temporary relief to a population of women who are desperately overworked as they “run the world.” However, rather than getting to the underlying cause of these gynecological imbalances, birth control masks the nature of the problem altogether. When the time comes to go off the pill, women are forced to deal with what brought them to birth control in the first place. All too often, patients will notice the unfavorable menstrual symptoms they were experiencing before taking birth control return – and with a vengeance.
Not to worry — Chinese medicine can help. At the Yinova Center, we assess patients individually and work in partnership with them to address any systemic imbalances. One of the most satisfying aspects of Chinese medicine is its ability to mend the root cause of a condition while also ameliorating the branch symptomatology. This means we are able to cater to your individual body and work to bring it back into harmony while also treating those annoying symptoms. Through the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle recommendations, we educate and empower women to reclaim their bodies and the health of their menstrual flows.
The menstrual cycle can give a woman so much information about the larger state of balance in her body throughout the past month. Symptoms like the severity of menstrual cramps, hormonal acne, menstrual flow and color, cycle length, bloating, changes to bowel movements, breast tenderness, mood swings, energy level, and sleep disturbances can vary substantially over the course of a few months. I prompt my patients away from feeling squeamish when talking about their periods. Rather, I encourage women to be fascinated with their menses, how quickly and remarkably it can change from cycle to cycle, and how it can reflect the overall health of the body at large.
Below are several common conditions we excel at treating in our post-pill patients:
Regulating the Cycle
I cater each treatment to address the underlying pattern of diagnosis and treat the body through each phase of the cycle. In the week leading up to the period, acupuncture and herbal medicine can have a profound effect on treating the symptoms of PMS. Coming in for a session when you are on your period can be helpful in easing menstrual pain, regulating digestion, and supporting complete emptying of the menstrual bleeding. After bleeding has stopped, my treatment strategy shifts to rebuild blood and qi, to support follicle growth, and to stimulate mid-cycle ovulation. Later in the cycle, treatments concentrate on luteal support and embryo implantation (when the goal is pregnancy). Chinese Medicine can also be very helpful when PCOS is discovered after coming off the pill.
Treating Mood Disorders:
From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the emotions reside in the blood. Each month during menstruating years, women are given the opportunity to literally shed some of their emotional baggage as they experience menstrual bleeding. What a fantastic way to quite literally let go of old, stagnant emotions (such as anxiety or depression) and to emerge with more clarity and ease.
Birth control disrupts the microbiome and can impact gut health. Chinese Medicine believes that healthy digestion is essential for the production of blood and, therefore, critical for menstruation. Biomedically speaking, a healthy digestive system with regular bowel movements is very important because it also allows for the removal of excess estrogen which can contribute to hormonal imbalances. Dietary changes and probiotic supplementation can be a key way to address digestive health. While dietary choices are very individualistic, based on food intolerances and preferential restrictions, Chinese Medicine supports eating warm cooked foods as a way to tonify the digestive organs and to help support regularity. Limiting sugar, alcohol and other hormonally disruptive and inflammatory foods can also be helpful at this time. Additional dietary guidelines to address your individual patient presentation can be discussed during your acupuncture consultation.
Long term birth control use has also been clinically shown to deplete the body of vital nutrients including B Vitamins like B12, B2, B6, Selenium, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. When women come off the pill, tonifying these deficiencies through nutrient-dense foods and supplements if needed is very important. This supplementation is especially key for women who are trying to conceive because of the nutrient needs of the body increase during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. We are happy to guide you through this process and assist you in finding the best prenatal vitamin that works for you.
Other conditions that we commonly treat in our post birth control patients include low libido, painful periods including endometriosis, hormonal acne, brain fog, headaches and migraines, sleep disturbances, hair loss, weight fluctuations, and poor thyroid function.