The Unique Nature of Feminine Physiology Pregnancy
The Unique Nature of Feminine Physiology
Blood is one of the most mystifying 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.” Ultimately, blood is the root of all female health. Women are composed of more blood than men are, and of less water than men.
A variety of conditions relating to reproduction create vulnerabilities only seen in women, including vacuity, accumulated cold, 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 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.” (is this a direct quote or does it need to be re-worded?)
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, like 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.
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 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.
At Wild Roots Clinic, we see a lot of women for menstrual attunement. 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.
Dr. Andrea Hansen has a specific interest in how menstruation and pregnancy are unique unto us and how that impacts our feminine relationship to health and disease. After having children of her own, she realized how tender and dramatic this time is for the woman’s body and takes great interest in pre-conception care, reproductive health, pre-natal and postpartum care.