You are on page 1of 3




AnAyurvedicViewofaWomansMenstrualCycle.


AmajorindicatorofawomanshealthwithinAyurvedaishermenstrualcycle.An
Ayurvedicconsultationwithawomanwillalwayscontainadetailedviewofher
menstrualcyclewithhermensesanalysedaswellasanymoodandphysicalbody
changes.Thismayseemunnecessaryfromawesternmedicalviewpointbutasthe
scripturessay,awomansmenstrualcycleisherrektamoksha,oneofthePancha
Karma(purificationtreatments)involvingbloodletting.Soawomanwouldneverhave
toundergorektamoksha,thebloodlettingpurificationtreatmentifhermenstrualcycle
isnormal.
Thisleadsusthentofirstdefinewhatanormalmenstrualcycleis.Withourhectic
lifestylesoftoday,itisveryeasytolosesightastowhatisanormal,healthymenstrual
cycleandwhathasbeenimposedonthebodyandmindasOKbutisinfactnotintune
withnature.Thisistrueforallailmentsinthebody.Itisveryeasywithourbusylivesto
ignorecertainachesasnormalandnottolookfurtherintotheproblem.Doesitreally
matteriftherearestomachcrampsandpainbeforeaperiodaslongasthefeeling
subsideswelluntilnextmonthanyway!
Inthisarticlewewilllookatwhatthesymptomsofpain,premenstrualsyndrome
(PMS),bloatingetcmeanfromanAyurvedaviewpointandhowtoalleviatecertain
problemswithchangestothedietandlifestyle.

AnormalmenstrualcycleaccordingtoVagbhata,quotedinAshtangaHrdyam,isa
dischargeofbloodeverytwentyeightdays.Theflowofbloodisforthreedaysand
commencesfromtheageoftwelveuntiltheageoffifty.Ofcoursethisisaclassicalview
fromthescripturesandtherewillbevariationsofthismenstrualcycle,especiallydueto
doshaimbalances.Vagbhatagoesontosaythatwiththemenstrualcyclebeing
unvitiatedandthemindandsemenbeingpure,ahealthyoffspringwillbeborn.Soitis
clearlyseenthatahealthymenstrualcycleistheprerequisitetoahealthypregnancy.

WithinanAyurvedaframeworkthemenstrualcycleisseenasapurificationprocess,
withtheimpuritiesfromthebodyexpelledintheformofblood.InAyurveda,aswellas
otherancienttraditions,duringthemenstrualperiodthewomanrestedandwasonher
own.Thiswassothatshecouldbeatpeacewithherselfandalsotolettheimpurities
flowoutproperly.Ifthoughtaboutlogicallyduringthemenstrualperiodthebodyis
underalotofstrain.Thebodyisbecomingweakwiththelossofbloodandtheremay
alsobebodypain;soitdoesmakesensetorestalittlemoreduringthisperiod.Because

ofthewaysocietyisprogressingtodaywiththelossofmaleandfemaleidentities,
womenareincreasinglyworkingasmenandforgettingthattheirbodydoesneedmore
restduringthisspecialtime.InAyurvedaandYogathistimeisthoughtaboutcarefully.
Duringmenstruationthebodyshouldtryandrestasmuchaspossibleandevenyoga
shouldnotbepractised.Iknowthatmostwomenwouldfindthisinconceivableand
mostyogacoursesdonotdifferentiateformenstruationapartfromafewasanas
(postures)whichshouldnotbepractised.Howeverintraditionalpractisesofyoga,
asanasarenotdoneatallwhilstawomanisonhermenses.Thesamewouldbeforany
formofphysicalexercise.Thebodywouldexperiencealotofforceandthisisnotgood
duringmenstruation.Nothingshouldbeundertakenwhichaffectstheflowofthecycle.
Similarlyitisnotjustphysicalactionsbutalsomentalactionswhichaffecttheflowof
blood.Vagbhatastatesthatthewomanwhoismenstruatingshouldonlyharbourgood
thoughts.Argumentsleadingtoanincreaseinthepittadoshacancauseanincreasein
theflowofblood.Itisaveryemotionaltimetooandthereshouldnotbetoomuch
sadnessasthisemotioncouldbeexaggerated.Inancienttimesitwasnotedthat
bathingshouldalsonotbedone;thisisbecausecoldwatercandecreasetheoreven
stoptheflowofblood.Inasimilarway,overlyhotwatercanincreasetheflow.
Nowadayswedonotneedtoworryaslukewarmshowersandbathscanbetaken.Food
whichisintakenshouldalsobesimple.Spicyfoodcanincreasetheflowofblood,and
sweetcandecreaseit.
Physicalabstinencefromallactivitieswouldbevirtuallyimpossibleformostwomen,
butitshouldbepossibletoeasethesocialcalendaratthistimeandtomakeroomfor
oneself.Thesethreetofourdayscanbeseenasatimeforreflection,meditationand
selfawareness.Thereisnoneedforprolongedmeditationasthiswillalsoaffectthe
mindandthereforetheflowofblood;butgentlequietinwardlookingmeditationwillbe
ideal.

ThemenstrualcyclecanbeseenintermsofthethreeconstitutionsofVata,Pittaand
Kapha.

AVatamenstrualcyclewillinvolvealowvolumeofbloodandascantyflow,perhaps
withbreakstotheflowandthentheonsetofbloodagain.Thedischargewillbeofa
dark,brownishcolourandperiodscanbepainful.Thecycleingeneralwillbeirregular,
withsomemonthlyperiodsbeingmissed.Thevayuwhichisactingonthebodyduring
themenstrualperiodistheapanavayuandwhenthisflowisobstructedthetendency
forthebloodistoflowupwards;hencenobloodatallanditisthisapanavayuwhich
needstobetreated.
Thetreatmentofavatamenstrualcycleistosoothevata.Thiscanbedoneinmany
waysandshouldbedoneduringthewholemonthnotjustatthetimeofthemenstrual
period.WarmAbhyangaoilapplicationisoneofthebesttreatmentsforvitiatedvata;
thisshouldnotbedoneatthetimeoftheperiodbutatothertimesofthemonth.The
frequencywilldependonotherproblemstheindividualmayhaveandalsolifestyle
constraintsbutinsomecasesadailyoilapplicationmaybeneeded.Vatapacifyingfoods

shouldalsobeeaten,suchaswarm,spicyfood.Coldfoodshouldbeavoidedinorder
nottoincreasevatamore.

APittamenstrualcycleinvolvesanexcessiveandveryheavyflowofblood.Thebloodis
brightredandmayinvolvesomeclotting.Themenstrualperiodlastsforaboutfiveto
sevendays.Themenstrualperiodcanalsofrequentlysomeearly.Beforetheonsetof
themenses,therewillbeirritatedandinflamedskin.
Thetreatmentofapittamenstrualcycleistosoothethevitiatedpitta.Apittapacifying
dietshouldbeintaken.Hot,spicyfoodsshouldbeavoidedandmorecoolingfoods
eaten.Ashasalsobeenpreviouslynoted,angercanalsoincreasethepittadoshaina
menstrualperiod;breathingtechniquesorpranayamacanbepractisedtoeasethe
anger.Sitaliisanexcellentcoolingbreath.Thetongueiscurledandtheairtakenin
throughthetonguetothemouth,thisisthenexhaledthroughthenose.Abhyanya
warmoilapplicationisalsobeneficialbutcoconutoilshouldbeusedduetothecooling
natureoftheoil.

AKaphamenstrualcycleinvolvesamoderateflowoflight,redblood.Thereareoften
clotsandthebloodisthickinnature.Breastsareswollenbeforeandduringthe
menstrualperiod;andtirednessandheavinessisfelt.Theremayalsobeweightgain
beforetheperiodduetowaterretention.
Thetreatmentofakaphavitiatedmenstrualcyclewouldbetosoothekapha.Abhyanga
warmoilapplicationcanagainbedoneatothertimesofthemonthandplentyof
exercise,alsoatothertimesotherthanwhenthemenstrualperiodison,shouldbe
done.Spicyfoodcanbeeaten,butsweetfoodsshouldbeavoided.

Amenstrualcyclecanofcoursehaveelementsofallthreedoshaspresentandin
conclusionthenitisimportanttoleadabalancedlifestyleallyearround.Thiswillhelp
tobalancethemindandbodyingeneralandleadtolesshealthproblemsingeneraland
ofcourseahealthiermenstrualcycle.



BindiShah2007
Ifyouwishtoreproducethisarticle,pleasecontactmeatbindi@anamaya.net