Menstrual Cycle and Traditional Chinese Medicine

A normal menstrual cycle is 24-35 days, average 28 day. The duration is 3-7, with 30-50ml of normal menstrual bleeding.

However, the definition of normal menstruation in Traditional Chinese Medicine is not so simple.

  • In addition to the cycle length and amount, Chinese medicine think a normal period should be: red in color, not dark; not too heavy or too light; with no blood clots and; and no special odour.
  • Before and around menstruation, there should be no significant symptoms.  Those symptoms include mood swings, sore tender breasts, bloating, headache or migraine.
  • If someone’s period does not meet the the above criteria, it can be seen as abnormal.

From the menstrual cycle, color, texture, volume and odor to start, combined with other general symptoms, we can determine the overall health from a woman’s period cycle.

Menstrual cycle length

Menstrual cycle is counted from day one of period starts until it finishes. If the cycle starts 7 days earlier, and with 2 or more consecutive cycles , she can be diagnosed as heat or blood deficiency; if the cycle delays over 7 days, or 40-50 days each time, mostly she can be diagnosed as cold syndrome, or Qi/blood deficiency (Qi/blood Xu).

Color, texture

If the color is light, or the texture is thin, it reveals deficient syndrome such as qi/blood deficiency, spleen/kidney deficiency, or dampness. While dark, purple color, thick texture or with clots means heat, blood stasis, or Qi-energy stagnation.

For example: the blood was also divided on the heat of hot and Hot, bright red color with a period, but the actual amount of heat associated with menstruation and more menstrual and hot with less. Also sub-cold blood cold, cold. Really cold or folders by color dark Dan a small blood clot, cold color such as Black Bean or Dan.


Observation period features and a target, that is, the amount of menstruation, but they alone will amount to the amount of blood is unable to determine the situation.

For example to the many, it seems a lot of blood, but is another Dan volume addition of color and texture they dilute it, but it is the performance of blood loss. Only to much color deep red, thick texture be considered hot. To less the same, in conjunction with the period of color, texture, can determine the true state of qi and blood.

Accompanying symptoms

Except the very nature of the period, the period before and after the availability of dizziness, headache, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, mood swings and so on symptoms, blood can also be used to help determine the situation. Such as easy to dizziness before and after menstruation, it is deficient? In fact a very good judge, observing period on it. At the same time period with less dizziness, color Dan. If accompanied by pale gums, tongue, Dan, palpitations, fatigue and other symptoms Shenpi was deficient.

If accompanied by chest tightness, head weight, poor appetite, more vaginal discharge, compared with phlegm caused by spleen deficiency. If dizziness, menstrual small amount of bright red color, and it will upset with irritability, weak waist, dry mouth and throat, cheek redness and other symptoms, compared to liver and kidney.

Dysmenorrhea can also distinguish between the body actual situation, the general came menstrual pain before or do not like Anrou, menstruation, the blood clot came out real pain for pain reduction, and more caused by the stasis, incentives and more to liver qi stagnation, or catch cold. If the menstrual period pain, menstrual pain aggravated, abdominal endless, like Anrou or hot, the pain was imaginary, and more from the kidney, blood in the virtual cause.

TCM acupuncture for dysmenorrhea period pain

Armour, M. (2015). The effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea : a mixed methods study.

TCM acupuncture, irrespective of treatment timing, provided significant clinical benefits for women with primary dysmenorrhea, with reductions in pain severity, duration, secondary menstrual symptoms and analgesic intake.


Mike Armour, etl July 12 2017. The role of treatment timing and mode of stimulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture: An exploratory randomised controlled trial.

Conclusion of this research: acupuncture treatment reduced menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment and this was sustained for up to one year after trial entry. The effect of changing mode of stimulation or frequency of treatment on menstrual pain was not significant. This may be due to a lack of power. The role of acupuncture stimulation on menstrual pain needs to be investigated in appropriately powered randomised controlled trials.


V. Iorno,etl. Acupuncture Treatment of Dysmenorrhea Resistant to Conventional Medical Treatment. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Jun; 5(2): 227–230.

Acupuncture for dysmenorrhoea. Smith CA, etl.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 18;

Due to the large volume of low-quality studies, this Cochrane review found there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate whether or not acupuncture or acupressure are effective in treating primary dysmenorrhoea,

Electroacupuncture for fatigue, sleep, and psychological distress in breast cancer patients with aromatase inhibitor-related arthralgia: a randomized trial

Cancer. 2014 Dec 1;120(23):3744-51. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28917. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

Mao JJ1, Farrar JT, Bruner D, Zee J, Bowman M, Seluzicki C, DeMichele A, Xie SX.



Although fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety are associated with pain in breast cancer patients, it is unknown whether acupuncture can decrease these comorbid symptoms in cancer patients with pain. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) on fatigue, sleep, and psychological distress in breast cancer survivors who experience joint pain related to aromatase inhibitors (AIs).



The authors performed a randomized controlled trial of an 8-week course of EA compared with a waitlist control (WLC) group and a sham acupuncture (SA) group in postmenopausal women with breast cancer who self-reported joint pain attributable to AIs. Fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression were measured using the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The effects of EA and SA versus WLC on these outcomes were evaluated using mixed-effects models.



Of the 67 randomly assigned patients, baseline pain interference was associated with fatigue (Pearson correlation coefficient [r]=0.75; P < .001), sleep disturbance (r=0.38; P=.0026), and depression (r=0.58; P < .001). Compared with the WLC condition, EA produced significant improvements in fatigue (P=.0095), anxiety (P=.044), and depression (P=.015) and a nonsignificant improvement in sleep disturbance (P=.058) during the 12-week intervention and follow-up period. In contrast, SA did not produce significant reductions in fatigue or anxiety symptoms but did produce a significant improvement in depression compared with the WLC condition (P=.0088).



Compared with usual care, EA produced significant improvements in fatigue, anxiety, and depression; whereas SA improved only depression in women experiencing AI-related arthralgia.

Acupuncture for ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May 1;304(9):E934-43. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00039.2013. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Johansson J1, Redman L, Veldhuis PP, Sazonova A, Labrie F, Holm G, Johannsson G, Stener-Victorin E.



Acupuncture has been demonstrated to improve menstrual frequency and to decrease circulating testosterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Our aim was to investigate whether acupuncture affects ovulation frequency and to understand the underlying mechanisms of any such effect by analyzing LH and sex steroid secretion in women with PCOS. This prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted between June 2009 and September 2010. Thirty-two women with PCOS were randomized to receive either acupuncture with manual and low-frequency electrical stimulation or to meetings with a physical therapist twice a week for 10-13 wk. Main outcome measures were changes in LH secretion patterns from baseline to after 10-13 wk of treatment and ovulation frequency during the treatment period. Secondary outcomes were changes in the secretion of sex steroids, anti-Müllerian hormone, inhibin B, and serum cortisol. Ovulation frequency during treatment was higher in the acupuncture group than in the control group. After 10-13 wk of intervention, circulating levels of estrone, estrone sulfate, estradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, androstenedione, testosterone, free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androsterone glucuronide, androstane-3α,17β-diol-3-glucuronide, and androstane-3α,17β-diol-17-glucuronide decreased within the acupuncture group and were significantly lower than in the control group for all of these except androstenedione. We conclude that repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequency in lean/overweight women with PCOS and were more effective than just meeting with the therapist. Ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum levels were reduced with no effect on LH secretion.