EPISODE 37 | WHAT TCM HAS TO SAY ABOUT YOUR CYCLE | PT 1 Timing, Length & Temperatures

I was listening to other podcasts as I often do, and one happened to be about the basics of TCM diagnosis. It dawned on me that I have yet to demystify this system of medicine that I love so much.  Today’s podcast is my attempt to explain some basic diagnostic terms in TCM, especially how they relate to your menstrual cycle and your fertility.

I believe that symptoms are God’s gift when it comes to figuring out what exactly is going on in your body. This reigns especially true when it comes to trying to figure out what exactly is happening internally when it comes to your fertility. If you’ve noticed subtle changes in your menstrual cycle in regards to timing, length or amount of bleeding and have wondered if this effects your fertility or how to rebalance it, this episode is for you. If you’ve ever had acupuncture and wondered what the heck your practitioner was referring to when they mentioned you had Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Qi stagnation, this episode is also for you. If you have considered getting acupuncture, but never really understood how it could help your fertility, this episode is for you. If you just want to know what your BBT or AVA charts mean through a lease of TCM and what to do about it, this episode is definitely for you. 

 

The Eight Principles (辩证) are:

1. Yin: Yin, along with Yang, is the most general classification for pattern diagnosis and it describes the relationship between the other three pairs of the Principles. Generally speaking, Yin is Cold and the fluids of the body.

2. Yang: Yang, along with Yin is used to describe the relationship between the other three pairs of the Principles. For example, Heat is Yang or the energy / Qi of the body. 

3. Interior: Interior describes diseases that manifest themselves in the Zang-fu organs or deep inside the body, such as Qi, blood, and bone marrow. In menstrual terms, this may mean scanty menses,  late menarche, or erratic cycles in general. 

4. Exterior: Exterior describes diseases that manifest themselves on surface of the body, such hair, skin, nails, and meridians. In menstrual terms, this may mean the symptoms of external pathogen that has invaded the body, like an STD that presents with a rash.

5. Heat: Heat describes the absence of an aversion to Cold. In menstrual terms, it can mean BBTs above 98.2, high temps above 97.2 in the follicular phase that provoke early ovulation, or cramps that do not respond to a heating pad. 

6. Cold: Cold describes an aversion to Cold. In menstrual terms, we see it as low BBT temps, dark blood with pain, or menstrual cramping that responds to a heating pad.

7. Deficiency: Deficiency is used to describe a vacuity in Qi, blood (Xue) or body fluids (Jinye).  In menstrual health we see it as cramping that gets worse as the period goes on, low temps on a BBT, short luteal cycles meaning Kidney Yang Deficiency or short follicular cycles meaning Kidney Yin Deficiency.

8. Excess: Excess is generally classified as any disease that can't be identified as a Deficiency pattern. Usually, it means that one of the Six Excesses is present. In menstrual health we may see it is as STD, yeast infections, bacterial infections,  growths (like fibroids), certain types of PCOS that involve the concept of phlegm and dampness, or even in certain presentations of endometriosis. 

It’s important to decipher if an imbalance is truly excess or deficiency because it will often mean completely different herbal preparations to balance the body. 

 

After a basic diagnosis of the diseases is given via the Eight Principles, the diagnostic continues and focuses on more specific conditions. After evaluating the present symptoms, a person’s condition is further evaluated as to how the specific entities (Qi, meridians, Zang-fu, etc.) are affected. This where we start to get into concepts like stagnation. You may hear about blood stasis or Liver Qi stagnation, where flow is disrupted. We still have to use the above pillars to decide if it stagnated due to deficiency or excess, but knowing what organ it is affecting by asking questions helps us to target the herbal formula to a greater degree and ensure the system is balanced. 

Causes of Imbalances

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not strongly differentiate between the cause and effect of a disease. However, there are three major categories that are considered to give rise to disease. The three major categories of disease causes are:

1. External: Disease caused by the Six Excesses. These have to do with the environment in which we live,  too much cold, too hot of environment, too damp of an environment, too dry of environment. For example; I reside in South Florida and it’s currently August at the time of this taping. It isn’t just hot out, it’s downright slimy. For a male that has worked outside all day, he might be exposing himself to super high temperatures all day long and  that could drastically affect his quality and count of sperm. 

2. Internal: Disease caused the by Seven Emotions or Seven Affects: Anger, Fear, Anxiety, Fright, Grief, Pensiveness, and Joy. These are said to affect the Zang-fuorgans. Constant high stress without a constant relaxation response have been shown to negatively impact sperm and egg health as well as ovulation.

3. Other Irregularities: Disease caused by something that is neither external nor internal, such as having unbalanced diet, damage done by parasites or in this day & age- toxins. In modern day you could think of this as the quality of the food we eat, and what toxins we are exposed to including those we slather on our skin in our beauty products. This is often the one cause of imbalance that we have the most control over. 

Timing Matters and How Do You Time a Cycle Anyways?

Ideally a menstrual cycle (from the start of one period to the next) is 28 days, the same as a lunar cycle. It's not uncommon for cycles to shift in accordance to new moons, full moons, changing time zones with travel, or with extreme stress or changes in diet, but when it comes to your fertility, the length can have a huge impact, in some cases it can decrease your chances of conceiving by up to 50%. 

Length Matters

Length of your cycle as well as how long you bleed for equally matter but for different reasons.  

Three main consequences of shorter cycles include lower egg quality, inability to sustain a pregnancy, and early ovulation.

Temperature matters

Most couples are shocked when they have a miscarriage. They are often even more shocked when they find out the chances of having one for any healthy couple is 30%. The good news is, that by simply tracking your basal body temperatures and waiting to conceive the following cycle after a "healthy" one is detected you can drop your chances of miscarriage to less than 5%.

* healthy cycle means having an average of 97.2 BBT in the follicular stage of the cycle and an average of 98.2 BBT in the luteal cycle, with a mid-cycle ovulation and a luteal phase lasting at least 10 days.

Did you know that you could get the same custom herbal formulas I use with my acupuncture
clients, shipped right to your door? When you sign up for a 3 Month
Subscription, your evaluation is free, a $100 value, and you receive email access to ask me
any questions you have pertaining to your fertility.

Links to take you further

Episode about Cervical Mucus

LadyPotions.com/episode27

Artofacu-stpete.com

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16357595

Disclaimer :

You must not rely on the information in this podcast as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website or in this podcast.

EPISODE 23 | WHAT YOUR BASAL BODY TEMPERATURE (BBT) CAN & CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR FERTILITY

Description: Today’s episode is going to uncover what your basal body temperatures can and can’t tell you about your fertility. There is a ton of information regarding this topic, so by the time you are done listening to today’s episode, I want you to feel confident and motivated about tracking your BBT and working with your practitioner on what it means for you. We will talk about why you should take your temperature, how to do it and then track it correctly, how to use the different methods to your advantage, and the benefits that come from tracking it.


Takeaway:

[2:14] When it comes to tracking BBTs or what is known as Basal Body Temperatures, I’ve had two main teachers — Jane Littleton and Kirsten Karchmer from Of Conceivable. Both are a wealth of information when it comes to using and INTERPRETING this technique. Fertility charting is an excellent way to gate what exactly is happening all month long, hormonally, in your body.

[2:57] Many times when a patient comes to my office they have done BBT in the past and are fed up either with the stress it causes or they have no idea how to read it. This leads to them wanting to dismiss doing it all, or maybe they have had an MD of some sort tell them that it’s pointless and they should move on to something like IUI or IVF if they want results. I’m here to tell you that’s not always the case.

[4:12] When a woman walks into my office with 3-6 months of charts either on paper or in an app I know in all likelihood she has just sped up her chances of conceiving with Chinese Medicine. This is also a way I know how and when to fine tune her herbs, recommend lifestyle and diet adjustments and even when there is a greater chance of miscarriage after a positive pregnancy test. This gives many women increased peace of mind that they able to keep an eye on the miracle that is unfolding within them without any invasive treatments. The other positive reason I recommend charting your temps is that it can be greatly empowering to understand what is having an effect on your body, like alcohol, caffeine, or even certain foods.

[8:17] Calendar rhythm method: Consists of using past menstrual cycles to estimate the time of your ovulation. When used on its own, this is the least reliable method of birth control. It should be avoided if your menstrual cycles are shorter than 26 days or longer than 32 days.

[8:42] Temperature method. You track your BBT for several cycles by using a very sensitive basal thermometer to take your temperature before you get out of bed each morning. Due to hormonal surges, your BBT goes up right after ovulation.

[9:10] Cervical mucus method. You track the color, thickness, and texture of your cervical mucus to monitor your fertility. Your cervical mucus becomes thinner, slippery, and stretchy when you ovulate. Tracking your cervical mucus will require some practice.

[10:14] I cover how to take your BBT:

  1. Take your daily temperature first thing upon awakening, before any other activity (going to the bathroom, talking on the phone, etc). The exception is 16 seconds of focused breathing referenced in episode 22.

  2. If using a digital thermometer, wait about 30 seconds until it beeps. Keep the receipt and return if you think the battery is faulty.If using glass, leave it in 5 minutes.

  3. You can take your temperature orally or vaginally, but always make it from the same place. Pick one and stay with it.

  4. Try to take it at the very same time each day right when you wake up.

  5. Make sure you get a minimum of 3 hours consecutive sleep before you take the temperature.

  6. If you use a glass thermometer, shake it down the day before.

  7. If you wake up at 5 and then plan to get up at 7, take your temperature at 5, when you wake up. Most digital thermometers will keep the temperature on it until the next use.

[14:38] When charting your temperature, you can use paper or an app. Some that I like are Fertility Friend, Conceivable, and Glow. If the temperature falls between two numbers on a glass thermometer, always take the lowest. Make dots on the appropriate temperature and connect the dots with straight lines. Note events such as stress, or illness in the miscellaneous row. Temperatures taken late should be noted in the ‘time taken’ row. 

[16:36] We cover what BBT tracking can and cannot do. It cannot tell you about your partner’s fertility, nor is it great at predicting ovulation.

[17:50] Don’t freak out if you don’t get every single day. As a practitioner. I am looking for the average in the follicular and the average in the luteal phase. It takes about one season (3 months) of working with someone to make a 50% increase in their chances of fertility.

[19:57] We cover the bleeding, follicular, ovulation and luteal phases and what I look at within each one.

[25:18] If temps are at 98.2 in the luteal phase, your miscarriage chances will drop from 30 percent to 5 percent the following cycle.

[29:16] I go over some patterns that we see in BBT and the phases, and how I as a practitioner use this information to work with the patient.

[34:12] One reason someone wouldn’t want to track their BBT is when they are taking progesterone supplements, as it affects the temperatures and if it stresses you out completely my suggestion is to meditate directly after. And if that’s still too much for you or you travel a lot or you aren’t able to wake around the same time most days due to life constraints I encourage you to check out the AVA Woman.

  

MENTIONED LINKS:

Link to sign up for free 29-day meditation challenge

affiliate link for $30 discount on Ava Temp tracker

Avawomen.com/avaworld/ava-data-means/

Jade Ashtanga retreats- join me this summer and receive one complimentary coaching session prior

 manifest your dream life with davidji retreat- $150 discount coupon code dreamlife2018

Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine, by Jane Lyttleton 

Guide to Cervical Mucus  episode 23

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