The Unique Nature of Feminine Physiology
The unique nature of feminine physiology lies in the fact that women’s bodies are designed to create life, bring life into this world, and then to nourish and nurture it. This is all done with the help of an intricate set of interconnected glands and a cascade of hormones and physiological pathways and body parts.
Because of menstrual cycles, pregnancy, birth, the post-partum phase, breastfeeding, and menopause, we have a unique set of physiological needs in medicine and the pathophysiological processes that occur are unique to woman and girls.
From a Chinese medical perspective, women are principally composed of, and dominated by — blood. It is at the core of our physical and emotional health — its movements and its vitality. Blood is; therefore, one of the most central aspects of feminine physiology.
When the female body was described in ancient texts it was said to be:
“characterized by uncontrollable and often life-endangering leaking and flooding of vital fluids from orifices above and below, by erratic emotions and disabling dreams which fluctuate periodically, and by it’s openness and vulnerability to such pathogenic substances such as wind, cold, and postpartum blood, in addition to chronic vacuity and weakness that result from the ravages of pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.”
A variety of conditions relating to reproduction create vulnerabilities only seen in women, including deficiency and weakness, accumulated cold and blood, and bound qi (energy). The taxation of the body during childbirth depletes blood and creates physical exhaustion. The openness of the body after childbirth allows for an invasion of wind and cold and postpartum bleeding. It is believed and stated that:
“From the age of fourteen on, [a woman’s] yin qi floats up and spills over, [causing] a hundred thoughts to pass through her heart. Internally, it damages the viscera; externally, it injures the outward appearance. The retention and discharge of menstrual fluids is alternatingly early or delayed, stagnant blood lodges and congeals, and the central pathways are interrupted and cut off.”
These references to the plethora of pathological problems that can arise within the unique nature of female physiology are commonly found in certain historical texts.
When early Chinese doctors began to study the female body, there was a wave of understanding among them that women’s bodies were physiologically unique, and that medical conditions associated with reproduction and gestation, made them emphatically different from men. This realization led to the field of gynecology, as we know it today. In Chinese medicine, gynecology centered around menstrual attunement, i.e. menstrual regulation and balancing.
The primary foundation of female’s unique physiology can be understood by observing the flow of the monthly menses. The health of a woman’s menstrual cycle directly signifies the state of her overall health. By observing the timing of the cycle, duration, consistency, colour, and amount of menstrual fluid, doctors can begin to have an accurate portrait of a client’s health.
Having a regular menstrual cycle is a sign of overall health. It is:
- Essential for eliminating stale blood to prevent disease
- Essential for building new healthy blood
- Cleansing for the uterus
A regular menstrual flow also:
Symbolizes cyclical regularity reflected in the cosmos (sun, moon, stars) that is necessary for generating new life.
“The qi of true heaven flows in communication with the menstrual cycle. Therefore the menses flow once a month.”
- Indicates an absence of blockages, proper balance of blood in the body, and an abundance of qi.
Menstrual blood or lochia (the blood discharged after birth) can also give a Chinese medicine doctor an indication of the emotional health of a woman because the heart, “the ruler of emotions”, is responsible for controlling and colouring the blood. If the blood is weak, the emotions may be as well.
Ultimately, if our health is based on the state of our blood — and by our nature as woman we lose blood in most processes that occur in order to create life — we are inherently vulnerable to imbalance and must work hard to maintain it.
Women’s Health Treatment
At Wild Roots Clinic, we see women for menstrual attunement, pre and post birth support, postpartum health, and menopause. As in all of our practices, each client is treated individually as a microcosm of their larger macrocosm, and so it is important to consider social, cultural, and environmental factors for the individual woman.
Andrea Hansen has a specific interest in these unique features of women’s bodies, not only because she is both a woman and a mother and has had a personal experience with this, but also because these complexities and pieces are all apart of the great mystery: the riddle of the human form that call her to investigate and go deeper.
The following is a list of the female related conditions we frequently treat at the clinic:
- Menstrual related conditions of all kinds
- Infertility /Fertility
- Cancer supportive care
- And everything in between