Women's health - Understanding the balance of monthly cycle
The menstrual cycle is closely connected to the lunar cycles, one should experience approximately a 28-29 days cycle with ovulation around the new moon and release of the ovum for implantation around the full moon, at its peak of energy.
Unless there is a specific condition or medications that can cause disruption to the menstrual cycle (please consult your doctor for any concern), an irregular period can be linked to hormonal changes. This can have many causes and be affected by various factors.
Ayurveda looks at the root cause, hence it is good to look at what Dosha influences the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual flow itself is the elimination of “blood” and it is considered a by-product of the first layer of Ayurvedic tissues, Rasa and the second tissue Rakta.
Blood is composed of two Dosha elements: plasma or Rasa Dhatu (Kapha Dosha) and blood hemoglobin or Rakta dhatu (Pitta Dosha).
Rasa and Rakta can easily be vitiated by doshic imbalance. Paying attention to the flow, pre and post menstruation, qualities (gunas) and symptoms, will give you many clues as to what it is happening.
Each Dosha has a play in the menstrual cycle.
Kapha dominates the first half of the cycle with the thickening of the endometrium, here you might experience kapha qualities of glowing, and being at peace. This phase culminates with ovulation.
Pitta dominates the subsequent phase, bringing more blood to the endometrium in preparation for the potentially fertilized egg and its implantation.
If the egg is not fertilized, Vata acts as a moving force to begin the menstruation.
Here we see how all the Dosha take part in the process and they can contribute to menstrual irregularity.
Each of the Dosha if imbalanced will give different symptoms.
Vata: lower abdomen and back pain, anxiety, fear, nervousness, light flow, etc.
Pitta: burning sensation, irritability, ager, hot, foul smell, heavier flow, etc.
Kapha: dull, discomfort and itching, depression, emotional eating, heavier and longer mucoid flow, etc.
When a Dosha is imbalanced, we consider Dosha balancing diet, routine and lifestyle.
Another thing to consider is nutrition, blockages, stagnation, and hormonal imbalance.
Nutrition is about providing the body with nourishing food and address malnutrition and malabsorption (low Agni, accumulation of Ama, etc).
Reducing toxins and have a correct lifestyle with correct exercise for your type will also reduce and prevent stagnation.
One of the most common causes of irregular menstrual cycles is stress. If stress hormones are high, it will affect the sex hormones and the menstrual cycle.
The first action to a normal menstrual cycle is to bring regularity and daily routine into everyday life. If we don’t assist our body in following its natural cycle, we can’t expect the hormonal rhythm to return to balance.
Where to start with irregular cycles?
• Check with a doctor if concern.
• Take notes about your cycle: duration, symptoms, diet, exercise, sleep, etc. There are many free app to track your cycle if you prefer.
• Recognize and reduce stressors
• Sleep routine
• A daily routine of self-care
• Daily adequate exercise based on your Dosha.
• Meals at regular times
• Ayurvedic diet (eating compatible food, food for your Dosha, eating correct portions, etc.).
• Hydrate yourself, drink plenty of water.
• Seasonal cleansing and/or panchakarma
• Follow the seasons
• Follow natural rhythm
• Emotional balance, cultivating spiritual practices and meditation.
• Pranayama daily practices.
• Self-massage and massage in general
• Keep good company, surround yourself by people that bring a positive energy, love, and kindness to you and you to them.
• Spend time outside, the exposure to daylight helps synchronize the internal clock with the natural rhythm and regulate hormones.
• Reduce the use of electronic devices, TV and Social media.
• Clear your environment from toxins. Some personal and home care products, cosmetics, fragrances –(avoid triclosan or phthalates in particular as disrupt the endocrine system) plastic, pesticides/herbicides, heavy metals, etc. can affect hormonal balance.
Even with a basic knowledge on Ayurveda, one can recognize Dosha imbalances and made a suitable modification. When we act on the imbalances we often see improvement in symptoms, including to an irregular period.