The menstrual cycle in Western medicine is largely composed of two main phases; the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
In the follicular phase, increasing amounts of oestrogen cause the uterus lining to thicken and follicles in the ovary begin to develop. After several days, a dominant follicle releases an egg which is carried along the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. This is the ovulation period.
The second, or luteal, phase is dominated by progesterone. The follicle which housed the egg becomes the corpus luteum and produces progesterone. If the egg is not fertilized and implanted, the corpus luteum shrivels and dies causing sharp drops in both progesterone and oestrogen. These hormone drops cause the uterus to shed its lining and menstruation begins.
Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the menstrual cycle in four phases.
Starting at menstruation, the flow of menstrual blood is under the control of Liver-Blood and the Penetrating Vessel.
The follicular phase is when various hormones stimulate the development of the ova and the uterus develops a new layer of endometrium. In TCM, this is seen to be influenced by Liver-Blood, the Kidneys and the Conception Vessel.
During the ovulation period, hormones mature the egg and weaken the walls of the follicle allowing the fully developed egg to be released into the Fallopian tubes. Fertilization by sperm usually occurs in the widest part of the Fallopian tubes. This phase is influenced by Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang, and the Conception and Penetrating Vessels.
The Luteal phase is the period between ovulation and the onset of menstruation and lasts about 14 days. The corpus luteum is producing progesterone in preparation for pregnancy. This period must be at least 10 days long in order to support pregnancy. From a Chinese point of view, this period should be subdivided into two parts; the first part, where temperature rises after ovulation, is influenced by Minister Fire of the Heart, Kidney-Yang and the Governing Vessel. The second part is under the control of Liver-Qi and Liver-Blood whose movement is essential to move Blood in preparation for the period, and the Penetrating Vessel.
PHASE INFLUENCING ENERGY TREATMENT PROTOCOL
1) Menstruation phase Penetrating Vessel Invigorate and move Blood
2) Follicular phase Conception Vessel, Kidney-Yin Nourish Blood and tonify Kidneys
3) Luteal Phase A Conception and Governing Vessels, Tonify the Kidneys, strengthen the Governing,
Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang Conception and Penetrating Vessels,
if necessary, resolve Dampness and tonify the Spleen
4) Luteal Phase B Penetrating Vessel Move Qi, invigorate Blood, warm the Uterus,
if necessary, expel Cold and resolve Damp-Phlegm
My Shiatsu treatment protocol was as follows:
During menstruation Day 1 – 5 Blood is moving which relies on Liver-Qi and Liver-Blood
If too little Blood – Move Blood
P6, Sp6, Sp10, UB23, UB24, K3, K5, CV4,CV5
If too much Blood – stop bleeding
GV20, CV6, LI11, Sp6, Sp8, Sp10, Liv1, Liv2
After menstruation Day 6 – 14 Kidney phase Blood and Yin and empty
Lu7, Sp6, Sp10, UB23, UB24, K3, K6, Liv3, Liv8
Mid cycle Blood and Yin gradually fill up the Penetrating and Conception Vessels
St25, St28, St29, St30, Sp6, Liv3, Liv8, UB23, UB24, K3
Day 14 – 28 Sp4, Sp6, GB34, GB41, Liv8, UB23, UB24, K3
Before menstruation Yang rises to prepare to move Blood. Liver-Qi moves in preparation to move Blood Sp6, UB23, UB24, K3, K5, K6
The treatment included a typical shiatsu massage, tracing of the meridians and the specific and concentrated working of the applicable pressure points. Treatments were an hour long once a week. In the first instance, the lady fell pregnant within 4 weeks, in the second instance, within 6 weeks. Both delivered healthy girls.