What is Abnormal Uterine Bleeding?
Physician Beverly Teoh
Signs and symptoms of abnormal uterine bleeding:
- Irregular Menstrual cycle
- Volume of menstrual fluid may vary. It may be excessively heavy (a need to change sanitary pad every 2 hours) or light and may be prolonged, frequent or random
- Vaginal bleeding in between menstruation (a.k.a. metrorrhagia)
- Anemic symptoms such as dizziness, paleness and tiredness if bleeding is severe
Causes of abnormal uterine bleeding
Many factors may lead to abnormal uterine bleeding. These include structural abnormalities of the uterus such as the presence of uterine fibroids, chronic medical conditions or even pregnancy related conditions.
More often, abnormal uterine bleeding occurs when there is an imbalance in sex hormones. Other factors include stress and weight disorder (underweight or obesity).
Chinese Medicine Perspective
Menstruation is closely associated with the Kidney, Spleen and Liver. Together, they help to maintain normal menstruation in women.
Kidney: Has the function of governing reproduction, growth and development. The commencement and cessation of menstruation are dependent on Kidney Qi. This explains why the decline in Kidney Qi in elderly women will lead to the end of menstruation.
Spleen: Helps to provide the fundamental substance of menstruation (blood), and Spleen Qi helps to hold the blood in place to prevent abnormal or excessive bleeding.
Liver: Helps to regulate menstrual flow.
Abnormal uterine bleeding is most often referred to as “Beng Lou” （崩漏）or intermenstrual bleeding （经间期出血）in Chinese Medicine. “Beng” means heavy bleeding while “Lou” means spotting. They may be caused by the imbalance of the Kidney, Spleen or Liver, as well as any disorder in blood circulation. Based on Chinese Medicine diagnostic methods, the condition usually manifests as either one or a combination of the following 4 patterns.
a) Deficiency in Spleen Qi
Symptoms: Heavy menstruation or spotting for a prolonged period, the coloration of the menstrual blood is pale-red, experience paleness, fatigue, shortness of breath, poor appetite and weak pulse.
b) Kidney Deficiency
Symptoms: Irregular menstruation, menstruation alternates between excessive bleeding and spotting, the coloration of the menstrual blood is usually dull red, soreness in the lower back, frequent urination at night and weak pulse.
c) Excess Heat in the Blood
Symptoms: Heavy menstruation, the coloration of the menstrual blood is bright-red and the blood is more viscous, constipation, general heat symptoms and rapid pulse.
d) Blood stagnation
Symptoms: Irregular menstruation, significant amount of blood clots during menstruation, the coloration of the menstrual blood is dark red, menstrual cramps, and dark spots at the sides of the tongue.
Tips for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Chinese medicine views the human body as a whole and aims to bring the body back to its balanced state. In the case of abnormal uterine bleeding, intervention by Chinese Medicine can help to regulate and re-establish the regular menstrual cycle. Depending on the diagnosed pattern of the patient, the Chinese physician will prescribe herbal medicine or administer acupuncture to tonify the Spleen Qi or Kidney Qi, dissipate heat in the blood, or to improve blood circulation by removing blood stasis, etc.
1. Have regular meals, moderately include food that is rich in iron, e.g. leafy green vegetables, beef, pork liver, etc.
2. Avoid spicy and deep-fried food.
3. Have adequate rest especially during episodes of heavy bleeding or spotting.
4. Relax and be happy!
Acupuncture Points for D.I.Y. Massage
Massage each acupoints in a circular motion for 1 minute and repeat for 4-5 times.
Massage San Yin Jiao point can help to improve gynecological health. To locate this point, simply place 4 fingers from your inner ankle bone. The point is located just beneath the shin bone.
Zu San Li point improves our well-being by tonifying Spleen Qi and improves the function of the digestive system. It is located at 4 fingers distance below the tip of the knee cap and 1 finger distance outwards from the shin bone.
Qi Hai point can regulate menstruation and tonify Qi. It is located at the lower abdomen. Simply place 2 fingers directly below the belly button and you will be able to locate the point.
Guan Yuan point can tonify Qi and improve blood circulation. It is located at the lower abdomen. Simply place 4 fingers directly below the belly button and you will be able to locate the point.