Questions about Me, my Acupuncturist and Herbs
I am seeking additional advice out of "desperation" from you as an acupuncturist/herbalist.
I am almost 30 years old and my husband and I have been trying to conceive for 2 1/2 years. To make a long story short, I have never had any known problems with my menstrual cycles in the past. They were most always around 29-32 days long and never had any spotting or cramping before the start of my bleed. However, about three years ago, a lot had happened that caused my husband and I a great deal of stress. We moved, I lost my job, we lost a family member, we had financial difficulties, etc. There was definitely some emotional stress that transpired as well. This is actually when my menstrual problems began. Basically, right around the time all this happened, I started to experience spotting and menstrual cramping 1 week prior to the start of my period and absolutely horrible breast tenderness. Unfortunately, this has continued for three years now.
My husband and I had decided to start a family about 5 or so months later after all that had transpired. (Job loss, move, etc.) Months and months went by and I wasn't getting pregnant. Finally, after about 7 or so months, I figured something was wrong. So, I went to a fertility specialist to see what was going on based on blood work/ultrasound, etc. He stated that everything looked pretty good other than some ovarian cysts (follicular cysts), but I had low progesterone, hence the spotting/cramping before my bleed. He said I had a luteal phase defect. He suggested progesterone supplements. I refused. I knew that I had to find out "why" I was having this problem and I didn't want a "quick fix" (even though I wanted a baby "quick")! I knew I was going to go about this in a natural, holistic way even though I knew it was going to take longer.
So, about 6 months later I tried acupuncture. I did about 7-8 sessions to help "regulate" my hormones and had no improvement at all. None! At this point, I didn't know what to do. I had found another job and the job was a very stressful one. I really couldn't handle the emotional aspect of not being able to conceive, not knowing where to turn to next, and having to work at this stressful job. So, my husband and I thought it would be best that I quit my job and see if that would help with the stress that could possibly be affecting my cycle. Unfortunately, three months rolled around and I was diagnosed with kidney stones in both kidneys. They ended up having to break these stones up using "Lithotripsy". I was so bruised and sore from this procedure in the kidney area. Unfortunately, I still feel the affects from it.
Also, about a week after the procedure, I experienced major vaginal dryness. I never, never had vaginal dryness prior to this procedure. Not even with all this spotting/cramping. I always had maybe two days of dryness after my period, then the start of the cervical mucus would appear and would experience more with ovulation approaching (like raw egg whites), then would turn back to white, sticky cervical mucus and so on. Again, after the surgery, I had no mucus all the way up to ovulation, then around ovulation, I would only experience a little mucus to where it was hard to tell if I was even getting "fertile fluid."
Another six months rolled around and I came across an herb company's website which sells TCM herbs. I thought I would try it, even though I was not familiar with herbs.I was assigned to a trained herbalist from the company and dealt with them for about 6 months. I knew that this wouldn't be a quick fix, but I figured by the 6th month, instead of cramping/spotting for 7 days before my period, I would only cramp/spot maybe 3 or so days. They not only worked on regulating my hormones, they worked on "warming" my body, nourishing my body, building blood, etc. I did notice some positive changes. They had me on so many different formulas that there are too many to list.
In the meantime, I thought that maybe I would try another round of acupuncture treatments since I've heard that you could have greater success using both herbs and acupuncture. So, I found a different person who is an oriental person from China that is certified in TCM acupuncture and is also a certified herbalist. I brought them the list of all the formulas I was taking. They had stated that I was taking way too many formulas and that some of them weren't the right ones. They stated that it could be condensed to where I would take only what I actually needed based on my symptoms. They changed most of everything that I was taking.
Most of the formulas from the herb company had Dong Quai in them. The new herbalist stated that I should definitely try to stay away from that one, at least for now. I was reluctant to change any of the formulas because I did see some positive change in my overall health, but again, no change with my menstrual cycle. So, about two weeks ago, they placed me on herbs they thought would be a better fit. I informed them when I first met with them, which was about 7 weeks ago, basically everything I stated above. They looked at my tongue and could tell I was a little anemic. They asked me several questions and I had informed them that my kidneys ached so bad still from my kidney stone procedure, had major vaginal dryness since the surgery, low blood pressure, feelings of "cold" most of the time, hands and feet cold of most time, chronic low back pain, ovarian cysts, hair loss, depression, stressed, acne around neck area and jaw line (close to ear lobes), and of course the spotting and cramping a week before my period.
I have so far received a total of seven acupuncture treatments, which have included around the pelvic area, and the kidneys, and a few in other areas (ankles, forehead, etc.). They also did "cupping" on my kidneys during one session. They could tell there was definitely still some stagnation from the surgery. All this bruising came to the surface of both kidneys. I started the new formulas a few weeks ago, and completely stopped with the herb company's I found online. So far, the cramping and spotting still continues. I started the cramping/spotting two days ago. I told my new herbalist/acupuncturist that I believe the second half of my cycle, "luteal phase", is shortened by about 7 or so days and asked if what I'm taking could increase the length. They stated the TCM doesn't really look at hormones, hence the luteal phase defect, or fluctuating body temperatures, etc.
At this point, I don't know what to do or what to believe! Like I said, I've had 7 treatments with this new acupuncturist (every week since mid October) and no luck at all with the cramping/spotting. I realize that TCM looks at kidney, spleen, stomach energies, etc. in general, but I would think that the new formulas would have something to do with increasing the length of the luteal phase. I also realize that if you don't have a good "follicular phase" and strong ovulation, you won't have a good luteal phase. I understand a little about the "Five Zang Organs", but can't understand why nothing has helped with my luteal phase!!! Could my emotional/mental stress from all of this be causing this problem not to "heal" sooner?
So below, I am going to give you a list of what they currently have me taking. Please note that this formula, along with the acupuncture, has seemed to help a little with the vaginal dryness, energy level, and has totally "cured" most of the kidney discomfort. Please also note that they have suggested that since I am spotting and cramping, that my period is ready to begin, so they also have me taking a formula to help "start" the period.(This is the first time I have taken this. I am starting the formula this evening.) They don't feel that the last half of my menstrual cycle is only a week or so long like I think. They think it's longer. For instance, I know I ovulated on the 18th or 19th day of my cycle. It it now day twenty eight. They think that the period should begin now since the cramping and spotting started. Technically, I should "start" on day 32 or 33, I thought?
Here is the formula they have me taking to "start" my period early...Dang Gui / Shu Di Huang / Bai Shao / Ehi Shao / Chuan Xiong (Take for three days until period starts. Then take nothing during the bleeding.)
Here is the formula they had me taking for the last two weeks...Shu Di Huang / Shan Yao / Fu Ling / Gou Qi Zi / Han Lian Cao / Mai Dong / Ze Xie / Mu Dan Pi / Fu Zi / Rou Gui.
Please note that they do plan on changing the formulas week by week based on where I'm at in my cycle. Unfortunately, I don't know what those are at this point.
I am so sorry for the long email. I would of loved to speak with you directly, but can't afford it at this time with the acupuncture and herbs that I am currently taking, and the herbs from the previous company that I invested well over $1,500 into. If you could just tell me whether you believe they have me on the right path based on everything I mentioned above, or suggestions I could make to the my current acupuncturist/herbalist.
Please also inform me of whether or not you feel that because I spot/cramp 1 week prior to my period, if that means I'm ready for my uterus to "shed". And, if you think this is an easy fix, but just need to find the right formulas. I am at a loss and totally devastated, including my husband. We just need some reassurance.
P.S. I also wanted to mention that my diet is pretty healthy and I take high quality vitamins, including a lot of "B" vitamins, fish oil, spirulina, drink at least 8 oz of water per day, etc. I also try to stay away from "cold" foods/drinks.