Causes of PMS and Menstrual Irregularities (Part Two)

Estimated read time... 4 minutes

In Part One, I discussed the symptoms PMS and Menstrual Irregularities and what a healthy period is considered to be.  Let’s move on to the causes of PMS and menstrual irregularities.

According to Western/conventional medicine, PMS is caused by the natural swing of hormones – progesterone and estrogen.  Holistically speaking, PMS generally brings to light all that is not right in the person’s life.  What may be out of balance can range from work/life/personal balance and boundary issues, to dietary issues, to lifestyle issues, to physiological issues.  In many cases, I’ve seen that the cause of PMS is a combination of the aforementioned.  As in the heart, mind and soul, so in the body.

PMS brings to light those things that one may be able to dismiss at other times yet one is unable to ignore now.

Why?  Is it because that person is “just PMSing” or is it because there is something out of balance?  By denying this sensitive time, and labeling it as “just PMS”, all of those things that have been brought up as red flags or blaring sirens continue unaddressed, wreaking havoc among the sufferer’s life.  We do not get better by denying what is being shown to us, in some cases we can get worse.

If you are suffering from PMS, ask yourself these questions, and write down how you respond:

  • What is the thought, bodily symptom or emotion that I experience the most while PMSing?  If the sensation that I feel the most is bodily, what is my emotional or psychological reaction to this symptom?
  • What is it that I most desire when I am in the midst of peak PMS?

While the primary PMS symptom can be bodily, I urge you to dig deep, listen to your intuition and allow yourself to respond to your bodily experience.  As an example of what I mean: do you suffer from extreme fatigue while you are PMSing? What is your gut emotional response to feeling this fatigue?  Do you feel like your body is letting you down?  Could this be your body asking you to slow down from overwork?  What do you think about slowing down, giving yourself more time for rest, relaxation, reflection?  What are some things that you can do to help support your body’s (or emotional) call for help?  Can you ask a loved one to give you extra support – i.e. giving you a day off per week from household duties, thereby allowing you to do what you enjoy, to rest, to relax, to just be?

Red Sage

While you are giving yourself the space to address these issues, you can also work on other factors to both alleviate and ease the causes of PMS.

But, before I can get into the common patterns of PMS per Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I need to give you a mini lesson in TCM.

Some of the primary root causes of PMS in TCM are Liver oriented patterns. The Liver houses and circulates the body’s Blood and Qi.

Blood in TCM is both the blood that flows through our veins, it is also the substance that nourishes and moistens the body’s Organs and functions, and Blood is the mother of Qi. Qi is akin to the body’s life force –both within an Organ, and throughout the body as a bringer and nourisher of life-force,  energy, air.  Qi moves Blood to the Organs, and in turn the Organs produce Qi – it is a circle. Blood is a dense form of Qi, they are inseparable. Therefore, if there is an imbalance within Blood there will be an imbalance with Qi, and vice versa.

A couple of examples of this imbalance would be when you are running, you need to take deep enough breaths for your body to absorb and distribute the oxygen in your bloodstream, without that, your body is unable to be energized by the oxygen and you are left breathless! Another example is if you eat foods that are low in nutrient value, your body is unable to properly extract the nutrients to keep you nourished and your body is left trying to create something from nothing, leaving you without energy. A healthy Qi/Blood cycle provides your body with the energy and nourishment you and your body needs.

The Liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) houses the body’s store of Blood, and ensures that the Blood and Qi of the body flows and circulates smoothly. The Liver is like a big filter, if you don’t keep it maintained, that filter can get clogged and form what is called Stagnation. Stagnation simply means that something is stuck – like a river not flowing at the right speed. Too slow and you get stagnant pools of water that get slimy and mucky. The river’s water is the Blood, and the movement of the river (the speed of the flow) is the Qi. Another way of looking at it is to picture a tree – the tree has sap that is stored in the roots in winter, the warmth and energy of springtime allows the tree to move the sap upwards to the branches and twigs – thus providing nourishment for the tree to create new leaves and growth. If something is stuck along the way, burls can form or parts of the tree struggle more than others.


If the Liver is in charge of keeping things running smoothly, having PMS is the epitome of things not running smoothly.


In Part Three, we’ll delve into what you can start doing today, to make your menstrual cycle better tomorrow!



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  1. […] positive or negative, regarding your periods, PMS, anything related to your menstrual cycle. In part two we will explore some of the main causes of […]

  2. […] PMS, and combine with the discussion of emotional, dietary and lifestyle factors to consider parts two and three.  If, after two to three cycles you see no improvement, consult a qualified herbalist.  […]

  3. […] positive or negative, regarding your periods, PMS, anything related to your menstrual cycle. In part two we will explore some of the main causes of […]

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