I want to share my story as a woman who struggled with my menstrual health since I was a teenager. In my family, most women struggled to have regular, consistent period (defined to be a 28 to 35 day cycle). Growing up in Malaysia, my peers and relatives recommended various supplements (evening primrose oil, white phoenix herbal pills, etc.) to help regulate our cycles. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. I was told that as I grow older, it will regulate itself. My abnormal cycle was not really that abnormal. As a kid, I didn’t care enough to learn more or treat it.
As I grew into my early twenties and moved to the USA for college. I was still struggling to get a normal cycle. Sometimes, I wouldn’t bleed for 5 to 6 months. I went to the university clinic and was tested. My hormones were in the normal range and I was prescribed a birth control/hormones pill to induce a period. No medical personnel could explain why I wasn’t bleeding when I was not even on the pill or sexually active. (yes, I was a very late bloomer).
I went online, joined forums, listened to what women and health professionals were saying. Most of these western women who had irregular menstrual cycle were seeing as the new norm, as most women in the USA were taking birth control, had IUDs and irregular periods is so common that it was considered “normal”. 3 out of 5 women struggled and lived with this “abnormality” without doing much about it. Over time, I gave up looking for a cure and just accepted my condition as normal.
It wasn’t until I met my mentor, Jack Huang at a free health fair hosted by Tzu Chi Foundation in Boston that I finally could seek counsel about my menstrual health. He explained to me what my physical situation was. It was a combination of inappropriate diet, poor lifestyle routine, emotional distress, lack of exercise and many more that caused a irregular menstrual cycle. My body was basically telling me that I needed to care for it and I was in such an unsafe state that my eggs were not dropping. My physical body was like a middle-aged woman when I was in my mid-twenties. I was shocked and scared. But he prescribed a set of lifestyle and dietary changes which I implemented and gradually my cycle stabilized over the next few years.
I really wanted to share this story because the more we talk about health with each other, the more we realize that fertility is a common challenge for our generation because of the stressful and unhealthy modern lifestyle which has become the new norm.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a few basic checks for overall wellness: How do you feel when you wake up? Do you have enough energy to go through the day? Do you have a good appetite when tasty food is in front of you? How is your bowel movement? How is your urination (easy/difficult/colors/stench)? How is your sex drive? Do you look pale? Reddish? Darkened? How is your stamina and voice? Do you have enough chi to vocalize and project your voice? Are you impatient or bad tempered without reason? And for women, how is your menstrual cycle? Is it regular, consistent? Painful? Heavy? All of these are ways that our bodies is signaling for help.
A significant population in modern life are in sub-optimal health. Most people struggle to work through the day without coffee or energy drink. Most people take pills for sleep, digestive and sexual stamina issues. We are ignoring our bodies’ signals for help and rest. It is a profoundly sick norm that we are getting used to. Please do not calibrate to that norm.
I hope this story will remind all of you, my dearest to notice what your body and mind are telling you. The body is a the vessel and foundation for all our life experiences. There are resources out there to help resolve any issues that we struggle with. Chinese medicine says, the best treatment is to treat an ailment before it worsens or even before it appears. Prevention is better than early intervention, and intervention is better than no intervention at all.
For all your great health.