By definition, missing three periods in a row likely means that you have amenorrhea, a condition we commonly see at Yinova. Patients often come to our center so seek help in reestablishing their menstrual cycle. Oftentimes, these patients have not been too concerned about missing their period until they decide to try to conceive. However, amenorrhea can be a sign of an underlying issue and should always be addressed. Having a menstrual cycle means that you are rhythmic in nature and any disruption to that rhythm can have consequences for your general health.
Common causes of amenorrhea:
- Low body weight
- Too much exercise
- A failure to reestablish a cycle after stopping the birth control pill
- A thyroid imbalance
- A side effect of medication e.g. corticosteroids
- A hormone imbalance
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Premature ovarian Failure
- A Pituitary tumor
Some of these conditions are more serious than others so we always advise our patients to see their OB/GYN to find out why they are missing their periods and rule out a serious disorder.
Most of the patients who seek our help do go on to get their period again after 3 – 6 months of treatment with regular acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Acupuncture treatment focuses on balancing hormones, improving blood circulation, and promoting ovulation as well as treating any underlying condition. This study looked at the effect of acupuncture on women* who were not ovulating and found that acupuncture seems to adjust FSH, LH, and E2 in two directions and raises progesterone levels. The study also looked at animal experiments which confirmed the results found in women*.
We usually prescribe a specially tailored herbal formula for our patients that is written specifically to address their Chinese medical diagnosis. You can read more about herbal safety here. Often the patient takes different herbs at different times of the month. These herbs are associated with specific phases of the cycle and are aimed at helping the body find it’s rhythm.
As for how to help yourself, here are the tips we give our Yinova patients when dealing with amenorrhea:
- Make sure you maintain a healthy body weight. Even gaining just 2 -5 lbs can make all the difference when it comes to getting regular periods. Likewise, if you are overweight and in particular if you have a diagnosis of PCOS, losing weight can help you to ovulate.
- Limit your aerobic exercise to 30 minutes 4 x a week, until your cycle has been reestablished
- Make sure you include plenty of protein and healthy fats in your diet
- B6 (200 mg per day) may reduce high prolactin levels. Prolactin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, and those with amenorrhea often have higher levels of prolactin. Acupuncture has also been shown to lower prolactin levels.
- Which brings us to our next piece of advice. Get regular acupuncture (once a week) from an experienced practitioner to improve blood flow, balance hormones, reduce inflammation, promote ovulation, and offset the effects of stress on reproductive hormones.
- Limit raw and cold foods and prioritize warming foods such as soup
- Take an essential fatty acid supplement to promote hormone balance.
- Include some goji berries in your diet as well as some ground flax seed
- Eat calcium-rich foods to maintain bone density and supplement with vitamin D to help with calcium absorption.
- See your doctor to rule out the more serious underlying causes of amenorrhea
- Take a specially tailored herbal formula or series of formulas to help reestablish your cycle. These should be prescribed by a practitioner of Chinese medicine who’s board-certified in herbal medicine.
- Get enough rest
And…. take a pregnancy test! One of the most common causes of amenorrhea is pregnancy. You’ll be surprised by how many times patients have sought our help because they are not having regular periods only to find out that they are pregnant.
* Language used in the studies referenced.