Late periods are by the medical definition late when they are longer than 30 days between cycles and in some instances can be 40-50 days late.
If there is just one late cycle, it is not regarded as a problem but if the cycles are late for more than 3 cycles, then treatment should be considered.
Chinese medicine views that late menstrual cycles can be due to deficient or excess energy imbalances.
What causes late menstrual cycles?
There can be any number of causes of late periods including environmental, diet, emotional problems. The accompanying signs and symptoms will help the practitioner determine what the cause is due to.
Even breast feeding for a too long time can cause late periods. This is because, Chinese medical theory says that the blood and the milk all come from the same source, so if excess milk is given away, there can be no blood left to have a normal menstrual cycle.
Specific herbs and or acupuncture points will then be selected to suit the individual diagnosis and needs of the patient.
Are there any self help tips to help prevent this?
Chinese women generally are cautious to avoid excessive exposure to any cold and damp environment and in particular during their menstrual cycle, avoid swimming in cold water. The cold can actually penetrate into the uterus and cause what in Chinese terms is called, a cold uterus. This can cause late periods as well as period pain and also infertility.
Serena Joe, who practises acupuncture in Wellington sees many female related health problems including those with fertility issues. She says “Many women coming to see me with fertility problems often have a history of irregular menstrual cycles and late periods is no exception. It is surprising to women when I use moxibustion on the low abdomen to warm up their “cold uterus”. It is important to promote a regular and healthy pain free menstrual cycle prior to them trying to get pregnant”.
What examples of Chinese herbs may be used to help late menstrual cycles?
Chinese herbs are an important component of any treatment program if the diagnosis points to a deficiency. Herbs such as dang gui (angelica root) address blood deficiency causing late periods and herbs like du zhong (Eucomnia) can address yang deficiency. Sometimes, even minerals are used as medicines as part of an herbal prescription and zi shi ying (Flurite) can be used to warm a cold uterus!