According to Chinese medicine, the most important thing you can do to stop painful menstrual cramps and increase fertility is make sure your body stays warm enough during your period.
This is partly because during menstruation a woman’s immunity is lower, and if the body gets chilled, it’s more susceptible to illness.
Chinese medicine views the body’s blood circulation as being like a river. In the spring, when the river is warm, the water flows smoothly and is able to bring nourishment to support new life. In winter, when the river is icy and cold, it cannot support new life.
Similarly, when the blood in the uterus is warm enough, it runs normally, but if the uterus gets cold, the capillaries in the uterine lining contract and blood can’t flow. If the body is cold during ovulation, and blood circulation becomes slow and obstructed, it can lead to the death of sperm and eggs.
Here are some tips from Chinese medicine to keep you pain free and create the right conditions for conception, if that is your aim.
1. Cover Your Midriff
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that exposed midriffs are seen as sexy today, because according to Chinese medicine, a woman’s navel is an energetic center that governs her reproductive organs. If this area is exposed to cold, it can cause not only menstrual cramps but also other gynecological issues, such as missed periods and increased vaginal discharge.
So if you’re the type who likes crop tops and low riders, consider adopting a style with more belly coverage.
You should also pay attention to covering yourself as you sleep. If you’re the type who throws off the blankets at night, you might consider donning very warm pajamas.
2. Keep Your Feet Warm
In Chinese medicine, the feet provide another avenue for cold to enter the body. Keep them warm by making a habit of washing in water that is as warm as you can handle and always wearing socks and slippers. If you find that your feet and hands are often cold, wear a pair of socks to bed at night.
3. Minimize Air Conditioning at Night
On hot summer nights, it’s tempting to crank up the AC, but while you’re on your period let the temperature rise to as hot as you can bear. If this temperature is too much for your partner, put on warmer pajamas and take special care that your abdomen and lower back stay especially toasty.
4. Skip Icy Treats and Drinks
If you drink a lot of ice water, it can cause the capillaries in the mucus membrane of your digestive system to contract, leading to cramps and causing your abdomen to distend.
Especially during your period in the summer, the sudden chill of eating something cold may make your body temperature drop suddenly. This can affect the normal function of sweat glands and make the body prone to colds.
5. Keep Out of Cold Water
When you encounter cold water, your body will produce a series of stress responses, such as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as muscle contractions. This reaction can also leave you more susceptible to catching a cold or other illnesses.
Especially during menstruation, lactation, and pregnancy, cold water can also cause abdominal pain and even endocrine disorders.
But before you swear off cold water all together, please note that at other times, washing your hands and face in cold water can actually help improve your immune system and blood circulation, prevent colds, and give you healthier skin.
Dr. Xiao Bin Li, O.M.D, started studying Chinese healing arts in China at age 14. A member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, she has been practicing acupuncture and herbology in New York City since 1990. She may be contacted at 718-458-3596