Hi friends! For those of you who have been following me since Girl Meets Life, you may recall this post. Lately I’ve been bringing Hungry Blonde back to the old school “Healthy Living blog” roots, so I figured this was a post worth re-sharing since it addresses what is probably the biggest thing I have overcome health-wise so far in my life. I hope it provides some sort of insight for those of you who might be struggling with the same thing and interested in getting acupuncture. I give a more recent update at the end of this post.
(Originally posted January 2015)
This is a post I’ve been wanting to share for a while, but I was hesitant to “go there.” So many of you asked for it, though, so here it is!
If you’re not into women’s medical/hormonal issues – AKA probably if you’re a guy – the exit is to the left 😉
My experience with acupuncture has been one that really surprised me and I’m so excited about the results, so I wanted to share it as information you might want to consider if you’ve had similar issues.
Cliff notes version: I started getting acupuncture about 3 months ago to help me (naturally) regain my period, and it worked.
Now for the long version.
Never once in my life did I have a regular cycle, and by that I mean I very rarely got periods. When I was about 15 a doctor gave me the “easy solution” of putting me on the pill.
I SO WISH I DID NOT DO THAT.
I really believe that going on an oral contraceptive that young screwed up my body even worse, and it made it even more difficult to get to the root of the issue.
So for the next 10+ years, I was in a cycle of going off and on dozens of different types of the birth control pill. I hated being on it, so I would go off in hopes of getting my period naturally, and it never happened.
I saw so many different doctors, and was tested for everything under the sun. PCOS, early menopause (eek), thyroid issues*, etc. I tried gaining weight, various different ways of eating and exercise…everything.
* I did have thyroid issues in high school, but my levels have been normal since then.
The good news was I didn’t have any of those things, but the bad news was I still wasn’t getting my period on my own. Pretty much all of the doctors agreed that I had generalized amenorrhea, and that the best solution is to just continue taking the birth control pill.
Fast forward to about 5 months ago, when I decided I had had enough. I was determined to get to the root of the issue and heal my body.
I saw my new lady doctor at Columbia University Medical Center here in NYC (and she’s great), and she understood me wanting to go off the pill again and trying to regulate my body naturally. She advised that I give it no longer than 3 months to go without a period, and so the countdown begun.
Getting acupuncture was something I would talk about with my mom here and there, but it just seemed like such a drastic thing to do. Not to mention I thought I didn’t “believe” in that sort of thing. But I was at the end of my rope, so I wanted to look into every possible option.
My mom is the queen of researching the best of the best doctors, so she got to work. She ended up finding Dr. Jingduan Yang – founder of Yang Institute of Integrative Medicine and director of the Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture program at the Jefferson Mryna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine (more on Dr. Yang here). Long story short – the guy was the best in his field, and he happened to have offices near my parents’ house and in NYC.
Meanwhile I was doing my own research on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, and the concepts actually made a lot of sense to me. It wasn’t the “magical/voodoo” stuff I once thought. Chinese Medicine is a science just like Western Medicine is.
In a nutshell, Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole and seeks to get to the root of the problem, rather than just fixing symptoms. What’s cool is that Dr. Yang combines Chinese Medicine *with* the best of Western Medicine, so it kind of all made more sense to me.
In October 2014 I had my first appointment with Dr. Yang. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was even a bit nervous. But after a consultation with him and my first acupuncture treatment, the nerves went away and I got excited that something may finally work.
At this point I had not had a period in over 3 months, so time was technically up for me. I was getting the acupuncture treatments every 1-2 weeks for about a month and a half. I was losing hope and becoming more and more skeptical about the acupuncture. I was scared that I was wasting my money and energy.
But then…it happened. I GOT MY PERIOD!!!
I don’t think anyone has ever been so happy for it to be that time of the month, haha. It was literally the first time I got my period on my own since I was a teenager. I was ecstatic.
It actually brought up a lot of emotions because – I didn’t realize it but – in the back of my mind I was always afraid I wouldn’t be able to have children. I never let myself face that fear, but there was such a sense of relief when my body finally started working the way it’s supposed to.
I continued getting the treatments to keep my body on the right track, and as I write this post today I have gotten THREE regular periods consistently each month.
I’m going to continue getting treatments for another few months, less and less frequently. I’m also making sure to implement other healthy habits like eating well, stress-reducing techniques, and taking Chinese herbal supplements prescribed by Dr. Yang.
Now I’m even working for Dr. Yang doing his social media! (but please note that that’s *NOT* why I’m writing this post. This is not part of my job description, nor am I being compensated).
So to wrap things up, I personally am a huge proponent of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. If it’s something you think you might be interested in, I highly suggest researching it and learning as much as you can, as well as researching the best doctors (and I don’t mean on Groupon). There are a handful of articles/videos on the Tao Integrative Medicine website that you might be interested in checking out.
A couple of more points that I’m thinking you might be curious about:
- No, acupuncture is not painful, but it can be a tad uncomfortable for a brief moment depending on where the needle is being put. That’s a good sign, though, as it means it’s hitting the right spot!
- It isn’t cheap. For me the expense was worth it for my longterm health, and thankfully my health insurance did help cover a portion of it.
- Depending on what you’re getting acupuncture for, you’ll more than likely need more than one treatment. One acupuncture session is not a quick fix!
- A common opinion is that acupuncture works because of the placebo effect, but many studies have proven otherwise. For me – even if it was the placebo effect – it still worked.
- Acupuncture can be used for a lot of different things, from physical pain to psychological issues and many things in between.
Since originally posting this over 2 years ago, I have regularly had my period ever since! I continued with the acupuncture for about 9 more months (totaling a little over a year), with going to treatments gradually less often until I decided to stop all together and see what happened. It really seemed to do the trick and “unlock” my amenorrhea.
Please note that I am NOT a medical expert, and this is just my own experience/opinions. Please seek a medical professional before making any changes to your health routine.