The Bao Mai.

Have you ever noticed after a period of high stress, anxiety or an emotional upheaval that your menstrual cycle has been impacted? That you period comes too early, too late or is accompanied with cramps or PMS symptoms? Do you wonder why this happens? It’s the Bao Mai!

In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory there is a direct link between our heart and uterus called the Bao Mai channel. Theory tells us that the heart governs blood and houses the Shen. Shen can be described as a person’s spirit or energy, a combination of one’s psychological, emotional and physical consciousness. Shen makes the heart vulnerable to emotional stress. In TCM the uterus is considered an extraordinary organ which also consists of the fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix. It stores blood to prepare for conception but also releases it for menstruation or childbirth.

Every month blood flows from the heart via the Bao Mai channel to the uterus. In order to do this the heart needs to be stable and balanced to send blood down to the Bao Mai. The Bao Mai needs to be open and unobstructed for the blood to flow freely to the uterus. In the uterus the blood will provide nourishment for ovulation, embryo implantation or menstruation.

If the heart does not function optimally this can then impact on gynaecological processes. Heart pathologies that occur are the direct result of stress, anxiety and emotional trauma.
Worry and pensiveness can lead to anovulation and infertility ( in TCM terms due to heart blood deficiency, heart yin deficiency, heart Qi stagnation). Overwork can cause amenorrhoea (due to heart yin deficiency, heart Qi stagnation or rebellious heart Qi). Sadness can cause menorrhagia (due to heart yin deficiency with floating yang or Qi stagnation). A blockage in the Bao Mai can result in irregular periods, painful periods, PMS symptoms and infertility. All of this impacts on the uterus and can effect embryo implantation or menstruation.

It is easy to see how stress, anxiety and emotional upheaval can influence our menstrual cycle. It is important to try to manage and minimise stress and anxiety for optimal gynaecological function. This is not always easy given the current state of the world. TCM can help with stress and anxiety management by aiming to balance the body through the use of acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine as well diet and lifestyle advice.