Let’s take a closer look at how anxiety and women’s health issues are linked - as well as the many ways you can find a healthy balance for both your mental health and reproductive wellness.
Have you ever heard that stress can make you miss a period?
...Or that anxiety can make it harder to get pregnant?
...Or that depression is a common side effect of menopause?
It’s no coincidence: modern biomedical research and ancient Chinese medicine wisdom show that your mental and physical health are deeply connected. And these ties are especially strong when it comes to women’s health!
Thankfully, you can support both systems from the root with Chinese medicine. Let’s take a closer look at how anxiety and women’s health issues are linked - as well as the many ways you can find a healthy balance for both your mental health and reproductive wellness.
Women’s Health and Anxiety
Women’s bodies are beautiful, powerful, and creative. But with all those wonderful things comes complexity. Many of the women I see in my practice aren’t just managing stress, or anxiety, or infertility, or migraines, or hot flashes. They’re juggling it all.
Why? Our bodies are so intricately intertwined that an imbalance in one area quickly impacts another. The challenge here is that when we struggle with our mental health, our reproductive health suffers, too.
Gynecological issues have many possible root causes and impacting factors. But for those who manage anxiety daily, our mental health may play a more significant role than we think. Here are some common women’s health issues that are linked to stress and anxiety:
- Irregular periods
- Lack of periods
- Heavy periods or very light periods
- Cycle-related migraines
- Cycle-related digestive issues
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Adult acne
The link between women’s health issues and mental health issues goes both ways. Often, a menstrual disorder is actually at the root of anxiety or depression, or the imbalance occurs simultaneously.
How Anxiety Sabotages Women’s Health
To best understand how we can restore our balance, we must understand why anxiety and women’s health issues are linked.
- Anxiety causes hormone imbalances.
We have a bit of a “chicken and the egg” scenario when it comes to hormones. Did the hormone imbalance cause the anxiety? Or did the anxiety lead to a hormone imbalance? Either way, anxiety perpetuates the cycle of hormone imbalance and can make any current imbalance more severe.
How? Anxiety causes a surge in cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, too much of these hormones leads to imbalances in the sex hormones (like progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen). These imbalances cause insulin resistance, high testosterone, or estrogen dominance, leading to a variety of menstrual disorders.
Anxiety also depletes our melatonin, a key hormone needed for rest, relaxation, circadian rhythm, and normal reproductive hormone balance.
- Anxiety increases inflammation.
Studies show that prolonged stress and anxiety cause an inflammatory response in the body. When inflammation attacks the reproductive system, we develop issues like heavy periods, clotting and pain, urinary tract infections, and more.
If anxiety and inflammation continue, it’s possible to develop a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (or PID). PID is closely linked to gynecological and fertility issues that affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and urinary system. Unfortunately, PID symptoms often lead to more stress, which only continues the anxiety-inflammation cycle.
- Anxiety puts your body in fight or flight mode.
Living with chronic stress and anxiety means spending more time than usual in fight-or-flight mode (sympathetic mode).
Sympathetic mode shunts blood flow and nutrients to the systems needed to survive a threat (like the heart, brain, and muscles) and away from non-survival organs like the digestive system and reproductive system.
When we live in a chronic state of fight-or-flight, the reproductive organs are starved of the necessary nutrients and energy they need to function at their best. The result? Menstrual irregularities, reduced fertility, and more severe menopause symptoms.
- Anxiety blocks the flow of qi and blood through the brain, heart, and uterus.
Let’s look at the bigger picture of anxiety and women’s health. From a Chinese medicine perspective, there is a close link between the brain, the heart, and the uterus. When this link is open, qi, blood, and fluids flow freely. Our mental health and reproductive health work in harmony.
However, when stagnation, inflammation, or other imbalances block this free flow, issues arise. This link acts as a two-way road. Anxiety can impact the flow from the brain and heart to cause trouble in the reproductive system, and reproductive issues can cause issues affecting the heart and brain.
Natural Ways to Ease Anxiety and Balance Your Reproductive System
Nourish Mind, Body, and Womb with Diet
You can do so much to control your anxiety and improve your reproductive health with diet alone! Yet, this is one area where people struggle the most. Here are a few ways to improve your diet and encourage better mental and reproductive health:
Foods to Enjoy
Focus on eating lots of foods that balance the hormones, boost brain health, and support the reproductive system.
- A rainbow of fruits and veggies
- Beets, berries, pomegranate, and other dark-colored produce
- Leafy greens
- Omega-3-rich foods like fatty fish and avocados
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Egg yolks
Foods to Avoid
Reduce your intake of foods that are inflammatory or disrupt your hormone balance.
- Processed foods
- Foods with chemical additives
- Excessively spicy or salty foods
Yin Yoga and Breathing Exercises
Exercises that connect the mind and body are excellent for reducing anxiety and restoring gynecological health. Yin yoga and deep breathing exercises bring a steady flow of healing blood, qi, and nutrients to the lower abdomen and re-establish that powerful brain-heart-uterus connection.
Try These Exercises
- Moon Time Flow Yin Yoga
- Yoga for Fertility
- Yin Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Relief
- Lower Belly Breathing
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas offer powerful ways to help reduce anxiety while balancing complex women’s health issues.
How does Chinese medicine help? In most cases, we use acupuncture to reduce stress and anxiety, clear away inflammation, and restore a healthy flow of qi throughout the body. Acupuncture can also be used to improve the function of the reproductive organs while also calming the mind.
Chinese herbal formulas are famous for effectively treating a range of gynecological issues, especially in cases where Western medicine fails to offer helpful solutions. Herbal formulas can improve blood quality, enhance fertility, reduce stagnation and cramps, calm inflammation, restore mood balance, and fight the harmful effects of anxiety on the reproductive system.
Reduce Anxiety and Restore Your Reproductive Wellness at Calm San Diego
Every woman deserves to understand how her incredible body works - and know that she is doing the best for her body and mind! At Calm San Diego, you can do just that.
Whether you are struggling with anxiety, need help managing a reproductive health issue, or want to balance both mind and body, we’re here to help. Through acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, diet therapy, and lifestyle habits, you will learn to nurture yourself with a natural approach that’s built for you.
Find your balance. Schedule your consultation today!