The Four phases of menstruation

By Francesca Canzano-Franklin

Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the menstrual cycle in four parts: Blood, Yin, Yang, and Qi.
BLOOD PHASE/ Menstruation (days 1-5): We work on nourishing blood and avoid Qi-circulating acupuncture points. Likewise, overly-moving activities and foods should be minimized (vigorous exercise, spicy foods, alcohol). This is a good time for rest and turning inward.
YIN PHASE (days 6-13): Yin phase. During this time, there are increased amounts of estrogen, causing the lining of the uterus to thicken and the follicles to develop. We encourage you to eat protein and mineral-rich foods (especially eggs and cooked leafy greens) to replenish blood and Yin.

Day 14: Ovulation. An ovum is released. The body prepares to shift from Yin to Yang and the basal body temperature rises. Some women experience discomfort, cramping, or spotting at this point in their cycle.

Divine illustration by Rita Serrano

YANG PHASE (days 15-21): The body turns its focus from building and nourishing the uterine walls and follicles to preparing for implantation; if fertilization does not take place, the uterus prepares to shed the lining. This is an active and energetic time.
QI PHASE (days 22-28): Toward the end of this phase, levels of estrogen drop drastically. Serotonin levels drop with the estrogen, so there can be depressed mood and PMS symptoms. Feelings of frustration, easy tears, mood swings, as well as physical symptoms like breast tenderness and bloating are all symptoms of what TCM calls “Qi Stagnation.” Your body is ready to move all the blood it has gathered in the uterus and your hormones are about to shift drastically again as you head into the menstrual phase.
Our bodies are a part of nature. A woman’s menstrual cycle is a potent reminder of this fact; it has four seasons and moves with the moon. Just as we shift our behaviour, clothing, and foods from winter to summer, through being mindful of our own seasons we learn about our internal nature.

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