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Amenorrhoea, is the absence of a menstrual cycle in a woman of reproductive age, and is most commonly a symptom of another condition. Causes of amenorrhoea include pregnancy, strenuous exercise, psychological stress, hormonal problems, and others.

If you have missed three periods in a row and you are not pregnant or menopausal, this is a matter of serious concern. If menstruation has not begun by the age 16, it is called “primary Amenorrhoea.” If previously normal menstruation stops for more than three months in a woman who is not pregnant or breast feeding and is not nearing menopause, it is called “secondary Amenorrhoea.”

What Causes It

Amenorrhoea can be differentiated into Deficiency patterns or Excess patterns.

With Deficiency patterns, the Blood is exhausted or deficient.

With Excess patterns, qi or blood may be stagnant, retention of Phlegm-Dampness can lead to obstruction of menses, or there is Blood Stasis.

Besides the mechanisms discussed above, some lifestyle factors can cause Amenorrhoea.

Long-term use of contraceptive pills can bring about Blood Deficiency or Kidney Chi Deficiency.

Excessive physical exercise or participation in sports, with over-use of the muscles and sinews, can lead to a deficiency condition of the Spleen and Liver. The Spleen fails to produce adequate amounts of Blood, and the Liver fails to store Blood properly, which leads to Amenorrhoea.

Signs and Symptoms

Patterns of Amenorrhoea in Chinese Medicine

The following four patterns are very common in cases of secondary Amenorrhoea.

The first two patterns, Kidney Liver Deficiency and Qi Blood Deficiency are Deficiency patterns. To treat these two patterns, the Deficiency must be tonified.

The other two patterns, Qi Stagnation with Blood Stasis, and Phlegm Dampness Retention, are Excess patterns. For these two patterns, the Excess should be eliminated through the use of Chinese herbal medicines.

Kidney Liver Deficiency: General weakness, malnourishment of the Kidneys and Liver, or an irregular sex life are the origins of this pattern. Symptoms include: absence of menstruation for a significant period of time; a thin body; dizziness; palpitations; back and knee soreness; insomnia; dream-disturbed sleep; chest congestion; anxiety; hot flashes; excessive perspiration;

Qi Blood Deficiency: Chronic illness; excessive bleeding from childbirth, miscarriage, or surgery; or prolonged breast feeding are possible origins of this pattern. Typically, periods become scantier and scantier at the end of the cycle, and eventually cease altogether. Other symptoms include: a pale complexion; dizziness; palpitations; weakness of the limbs; lassitude; loose stools;

Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis: Emotional stress or trauma is the most common origin of this pattern. Menstruation ceases after intense or prolonged emotional stress or trauma. Symptoms include: absence of menstruation; depression; anxiety; a sensation of fullness in the chest and under the rib cage; swelling or fullness of the abdomen with an aversion to pressure; lack of appetite; thirst; desire to drink cold water; constipation

Phlegm Dampness Retention: Chronic overweight or a deficient Spleen are a common background for this pattern, as well as the habitual consumption of cold, raw, or greasy foods (especially dairy products). Overweight and Spleen Deficiency contribute to metabolism problems, and retention of Phlegm Dampness leads to absence of menstruation. Other symptoms include: a feeling of fullness and congestion in the chest and lower rib cage; nausea; vomiting; a feeling of sticky phlegm in the mouth; lassitude; large amounts of sticky, mucoid vaginal discharge.

Treatment Options

Acupuncture vs. Medications for Amenorrhoea

Besides herbal medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion are two other widely-used healing tools in traditional Chinese medicine. Although both traditional Chinese medicine and conventional Western medicine aim to achieve the same goal — restart the periods and restore the normal cycle, a significant difference exists between these two modalities. Traditional Chinese Medicine stimulates the body to regulate its naturally-occurring hormones and restore the normal hormone function, while conventional Western medicine restores the function of the thalamus-pituitary-ovary axis through the use of artificial hormones. The following clinical study shows that they have very different long-lasting effects.

A clinical study was conducted at the Thousand Buddha Mountain Hospital in Jinan, China, to determine the efficacy of acupuncture vs. medication for Amenorrhoea. There were ninety-five subjects in the study. All the patients Amenorrhoea has lasted for six months or more, and was attributed to the use of birth control pills. Fifty-seven of the patients were in the Acupuncture Treatment Group, and thirty-eight patients were in the Medication Group. Two patterns of Amenorrhoea, Spleen Liver deficiency and Liver-Chi stagnation, were differentiated in the Acupuncture Treatment Group. A course of treatments consisted of twenty treatments of six courses, with five-day breaks between the courses. One month after finishing the treatments, the effective rate (cure, great improvement and improvement) for the Acupuncture Treatment Group was 96.49%, while the effective rate for the Medication Group was 97.36%. Initially, there was no significant difference between these two groups. Six months after finishing the treatments, however, the effective rate was reported at 94.73% for the Acupuncture Treatment Group, while the effective rate dropped to 78.94% for the Medication Group. This is a significant difference between the two groups, suggesting that the long-range effects of acupuncture are very positive.

Many studies in China reveal that acupuncture, moxibustion, and Chinese herbal medicine are superior to conventional medicine in the treatment of menstrual disorders, including Amenorrhoea.