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Acupuncture for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: 4 Patients, 4 Success Stories

If you’ve been struggling with periods that just won’t seem to end, or they’re just so heavy that they leave you exhausted and depleted, Chinese medicine can probably help.

When women call saying they’re “hemorrhaging”, I tell them they need to get to western care immediately! It’s also good for women of any age to visit their gynecologist for a western diagnosis to rule out issues like massive fibroids that are too large for Chinese medicine to fix.

But the vast majority of women who come to me for heavy bleeding don’t fall into these categories, and these cases are usually pretty easy fixes for Chinese medicine.

4 Heavy Bleeding Patients, 4 Different Diagnoses, 4 Successful Outcomes

I’m giving 4 examples in this blog of recent/current patients of mine who all had heavy bleeding, but for completely different reasons. Each woman’s bleeding was completely resolved within 3-4 cycles.

Patient #1:
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Long cycles (between 35-42 days from day 1 of bleeding to next day 1)
  • Felt cold a lot
  • Extremely painful periods, to the point of taking prescription pain meds if she was working on the first couple days of her period
Patient #2:
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Irregular and short cycles: sometimes they’d come every two weeks and last for an entire week of heavy bleeding. Other times they would be 21-23 days long between periods.
  • Clotty and mildly painful periods
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
Patient #3:
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry skin and dry/brittle hair
Patient #4
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Digestive bloating and loose stools
  • Low energy
  • Acupuncture Diagnosis and Treatment for each patient

Each patient’s diagnosis and what we worked on

Patient #1:

This woman’s diagnosis was excess cold in the uterus with yang (warmth) deficiency. Cold causes our qi and blood to get blocked, which can cause the most extreme pain there is. It’s like our uterus becomes like an ice block, and nothing can move. Which can seem contradictory because her blood was certainly moving too much.

The problem started after she’d done the Tough Mudder race where she swam through their Polar Plunge obstacle and then never warmed up the entire rest of race, despite the intense physical exercise. She tends to run on the cold side anyway so it was like this put her over the edge, turning cold into ice.

By warming her up, the stagnant blood causing the pain was able to release, massively decreasing her menstrual pain. Because her cold was due to yang deficiency, it was like her body lacked the energy to both warm her up, and hold in her blood so it didn’t leak out profusely.

Her treatment not only resolved her heavy bleeding, but it also regulated her cycles and warmed her up.

This patient needs to stay away from cold and raw foods to help keep her yang qi/warmth up.

Patient #2:

This was a classic case of liver qi stagnation. We say the (Chinese) liver regulates the menstrual cycle but also plays a huge role in regulating our stress.

By regulating her liver, not only did her heavy bleeding normalize, but her cycles started coming in much regular intervals, ending with approximately every 25-27 days by the 4th month. Continued treatment should help stretch that out closer to the ideal 28 days or so. Her headaches, which were also caused by the liver imbalance, improved long before her cycles were regulated.

This patient needs to work on STRESS and slowing down to maintain the results of her treatment.

Patient #3:

This was a classic “Spleen” Qi Deficiency case. (ignore the spleen part, it doesn’t really make sense to anyone except acupuncturists, so just think of this as general energy weakness) The qi/energy weakness was preventing her body from holding in her fluids, and so her menstrual blood and sweat leaked out excessively. This is in ways similar to Patient #1, only it’s a totally different type of deficiency and treating them the same wouldn’t work.

All the loss of blood resulted in blood deficiency also (think of anemia – not an exact correlation but anemia is one example of blood deficiency), so she had the dry skin and hair.

By boosting her qi and nourishing her blood, her bleeding normalized and her blood deficiency symptoms showed signs of improvement. Nourishing blood and boosting qi isn’t an overnight process, so we’re keeping her on herbs to continue working on her energy as well as skin/hair.  4 months into treatment her energy is about 75% better, so we’re hoping to get it to 100% with a couple more months of herbal treatment.

Patient #4

This patient is similar to the last patient, in that her case also resolved by nourishing her Qi. Only this person’s treatment focused on fixing her digestive problems. Because she ate a very poor diet of lots of processed and sweet foods, her digestive qi was weak. She just doesn’t absorb nutrients well, which is worsened by the fact that she doesn’t eat foods high in nutritional value. Similar to the last patient, her energy was too weak then to contain/hold in her blood, so it rushed out excessively.

By working on boosting her absorptive capacity in her digestion, her energy improved and both her excessive bleeding as well as digestion improved.

The biggest challenge with this patient will be staying away from the poor food choices that depleted her in the first place.

None of these women received “stop bleeding” treatments

Notice each of these women’s cases were totally unique. They resolved by looking at the big picture of the imbalances that were going on in each person’s body, and fixing the system as a whole.

The remarkable thing is, although there are “stop bleeding” herbs in Chinese medicine, apart from a small amount of these herbs being added into some of their customized herbal formulas, the focal point of these treatments was never to stop bleeding, per se. That was simply the outcome of balancing their body and getting to the CAUSE of each of their bleeding.

If I had just gone in with a ton of stop bleeding herbs, the problem wouldn’t have been fixed.

Note also that we never even discussed hormones

Often, women with heavy bleeding will come in with lab results showing how “off” their hormones are.

While that’s obviously true, by reducing the treatment to “balancing hormones” and taking that reductionist more western approach, we would have completely lost sight of what needed to happen in order for Chinese medicine to work.

Because although each of these women’s hormones were definitely imbalanced, that information is useless for acupuncturists to do what needs to be done to get the hormones balanced again. In each case, it took something totally different.

Are you having heavy menstrual bleeding?

If you’ve been struggling with heavy bleeding, then at your initial consultation we’ll work to get at the root of what’s causing it in YOUR case.

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