Women Menstrual Health With Ayurveda
What is a Menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle is a part of a women’s reproductive system. It is the monthly series of changes a women’s body goes through that prepare the body for a possible pregnancy. At the time of ovulation (release of ovum from the ovaries), hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the ovum is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is termed a menstrual period
Normal Menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. This is not the same for every woman. The average cycle is 28 days long but can range from 21-35 days.
The hormones of the pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries regulate the menstrual cycle.
Periods typically last for 3 to 7 days and the amount of blood loss can vary. They range from mild, to moderate to severe.
Age of Menstruation
Girls often get menstruation between 8 and 15 years. The first cycles are commonly irregular.
Health issues specific to women
- Gynaecological health (menstrual irregularities)
- Urinary tract health
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Pregnancy issues
- Issues related to infertility
- Mental health
Symptoms of menstruation
The symptoms vary for different women. Common symptoms include
- Abdominal or pelvic cramping
- Low back pain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Food cravings
- Mood swings
- Leg, back, stomach cramps
Dysmenorrhoea is the term used for painful periods. Types of dysmenorrhoea are
- Primary dysmenorrhoea occurs when there is no underlying problem of the uterus or pelvis.
- Secondary dysmenorrhoea is the pain caused by a problem in the uterus or pelvis.
Menstrual cycle problems
Sometimes women may experience irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Common problems are
- Amenorrhoea- The absence of menstruation for 90 days is amenorrhoea. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, eating disorders, excessive exercise, stress are common causes of amenorrhoea.
- Dysmenorrhoea- Painful menstruation is dysmenorrhoea. Uterine fibroids, endometriosis etc. are common causes of dysmenorrhoea.
- Oligomenorrhea- Periods that occur infrequently is oligomenorrhea.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding- Vaginal bleeding other than normal menstrual bleeding is abnormal uterine bleeding.
Common causes of menstrual irregularities
- Eating disorders
- Extreme weight loss
- Excessive exercise
- PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)
- Premature ovarian failure
- Pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID)
- Uterine fibroids
Ayurvedic remedies to reduce Menstrual Pain
Ayurveda recognizes the changes in the female body during menstruation (Rajaswala). A lot of do’s and don’ts are explained during the menstrual period. These modifications include having light meals, avoiding pungent and spicy food, avoiding day sleep and strenuous activities.
Ayurvedic care to improve menstrual health includes lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, drugs, and treatment.
1) Lifestyle Changes
a) Practise Yoga
Gentle exercise helps to reduce pain. Bound angle pose (Badha Konasana), child’s pose (Balasana), wide-angle seated forward bend (Upavitha Konasana), etc. will help to reduce menstrual pain.
b) Reduce stress
Practicing stress-relieving techniques like meditation helps to reduce cramps.
c) Take rest
2) Dietary Modifications
a) Drinking water
Drinking plenty of warm water helps to reduce muscle cramps during the periods. In addition, water intake also reduces bloating of the stomach.
b) Intake of vitamins
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium and reduces inflammation.
c) Avoid too much spicy food
A lot of drugs are explained in Ayurveda that can improve women’s menstrual health.
Drugs that help to reduce menstrual pain include
- Foeniculum vulgare (Sweet fennel)
- Zingiber officinale (Ginger)
- Cumminum cyminum (Cumin)
- Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon)
- Trigonella foenum-graecum (Fenugreek)
- Ferula asafoetida (Asafoetida)
Add a small quantity of any of these drugs and boil the water. Intake of this water helps to reduce the menstrual cramp suddenly. Studies show that these medicinal plants are anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic activities.
Drugs that improve women’s reproductive health
- Asparagus racemosus
- Symplocos racemosa
- Saraca asoca
- Aloe vera
4) Ayurveda Treatments
If the symptoms are severe, they need medical attention and further investigations. A lot of medicines are detailed in Ayurveda to reduce menstrual pain.
- Kashayam (Decoctions)- Sapthasaram Kashayam, Dhanwantharam Kashayam, etc.
- Arishtams- Dasamoolarishtam, Jeerakarishtam, Ashokarishtam, Kumaryasavam etc.
- Gulika (Tablets)- Dhanwantharam Gulika
- Choornam (Powders)- Hinguvachadi Choornam
- Massage using medicated oils like Dhanwantharam Tailam, Karpooradi Tailam helps to reduce menstrual pain.
- Panchakarma therapies like Vasthi (medicated enema) are also beneficial.
Home remedies for Menstrual Cramps
The application of heat helps the muscles to relax. In addition, it improves blood circulation and relieves tension.
Importance of Menstrual Hygiene
Hygienic practice during menstruation helps to prevent infections of the urinary and reproductive tract. Hygienic practice includes a frequent change of napkins and proper washing.
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