Suffering from menorrhagia
Whenever my mother-in-law asserted me that my menstrual problems would be healed with pregnancy, I was sceptic. After all, I’ve had had menorrhagia (heavy and prolonged periods with blood clots) for more than a decade, or more precisely – since first having a period. I used to fear that time of the month, and for good reason. With having to get up and go to the toilet every few hours, sleep was often hard to come by on the stronger days.
In the past, I had to plan around my periods to make sure I wouldn’t get into uncomfortable or embarrassing situations while on my period. Oftentimes, I had to take a day off work because working just wasn’t possible on the stronger days. When I climbed the mountains at Tiger Leaping Gorge in the summer of 2013, I decided to take a shorter route and head right on to Shangri-la instead of trekking to other villages further down the road because my period was about to start.
Before becoming pregnant, I used menstrual cups, because pads or tampons simply wouldn’t do it anymore. I also had severe back pain and other menstruation-related pain. The pain was treated rather fast with TCM herbal teas a doctor prescribed me, but my periods were still extremely heavy.
Searching for treatment
In the summer of 2013, I went to the hospital for check-ups and the doctor told me that my menorrhagia was connected to hormonal imbalances (excess estrogen and low levels of progesterone). She prescribed me hormones, but I decided not to take the medicine after reading all the listed side effects and online articles saying that the hormones could cause breast or other cancer.
So in early fall of 2013, I went to see a TCM practitioner specialising in gynaecology instead. A few days after I started treatment for my hormone imbalances (a condition that can be treated very well with TCM, I’ve heard), I found out that I was pregnant.
Pregnancy – more than just a short-term solution to menorrhagia
Pregnancy and breastfeeding were the perfect short-term solution for my menstrual problems. And as it turns out, pregnancy can indeed heal heavy menses. When my menses came back 5 months after giving birth, they weren’t heavy anymore. I was still anxious that they’ll become heavier with time, but after having had a few menses, I’m more positive that the results will be long-term.
My husband always emphasises that I should wear slippers at home and avoid the cold – cold foods (both in temperature as in TCM terms), cold weather (meaning not staying outside for too long or wearing enough layers in windy or rainy weather), cold water and cold feet. In China, many kitchen sinks only have cold water, so he always washes the dishes when I’m on my period (he washes them many other times too, but particularly at that time of the month). He’s positive that my adhering (somewhat) to Chinese postpartum practices played a big role in healing my menorrhagia.
So what if you don’t want to or can’t treat your heavy periods by becoming pregnant? (There’s also still a huge chance that your menorrhagia won’t go away after pregnancy). Just know that one other option besides relying on hormonal treatments or taking the pill is Traditional Chinese Medicine. When I enquired with a naturopath in Austria who treats these conditions naturally (and has waiting times of half a year or longer), she told me that TCM is very well suited to treat menorrhagia or other menstruation-related conditions.
Have you ever had menstrual problems? How do you deal with them?