So you want a piece of this lecture? I know you don't want to be lectured but I know you are also curious as to WHY she nags me on such a small matter.
Before I go into the lecture (well, not verbatim, but maybe some main points that she made), let me just tell you this: I don't just hear this from my mom. I hear this from my close friends in Malaysia, friends from Taiwan, male friends, my dad, my cousins, my aunts, my students, and random strangers I meet in Asia.
So what is the big deal?
When I am experiencing cramps during my period, the first thing I do is whining about it to anybody who is around me. The responds I get here in the US is "take this (whatever it is) pill", which I never do because I don't like to pop pills into my mouth and my body. I don't even take birth control pills despite the fact that Mr.L and I do not intend to have any kids until I'm done with school. TMI~!
When I was in Malaysia in the past three months, ALL responds I get are "don't drink cold water" or "Do you drink cold water normally? Don't EVER drink cold water!" Cold drinks can, supposedly, cause cramps and mess up your menstrual cycle. And when that happens, "You cannot get pregnant easily!" (in the words of my mama). And "it can cause you to have irregular menstrual cycle." Last but not least, the classic, "you can get cancer if bad blood circulation cause you not to be able to dump all your 'dirty blood'".
WHAT???????????????? You're raising your eye-brows, aren't you? Or shaking your head. I know. What scientific proof can anyone give to sustain this belief? I am still searching for a Chinese medicine report on this that's translated into English. But I can't find any! I found some forums that talks about this in Chinese but I want a Western doctor or researcher to verify it cause I just want to be able to prove/dispute that drinking cold water on a daily basis is not good for women (and not just Chinese women). If there's no strong scientific evidence to prove that then I don't want to be following it (and I can hear myself retort "there are ghosts and there are no solid scientific evidence, apart from some sound waves which doesn't really mean anything, to back it up).
I went online an searched for this topic "why can't women drink cold water during their period". I know, asking a question to google as if it is a human. This is what I found that I thought was a not-so-bad explanation.
"During their menstrual period women should avoid cold foods and eat more warm foods. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that heat promotes blood circulation while the cold slows it down. Eating cold foods not only hinders digestion but also harms the body's yangqi (me: you know, that whole yin and yang thing? it plays a big part in Chinese medicine), causing the production of internal cold, which causes stagnation. It will slow down the circulation of blood, causing a lack of blood and even dysmenorrhea. Therefore even during hot summers, menstruating women should not have cold drinks or cold foods like pears, water chestnuts, wax gourds, etc."
This is found here.
Then I found this and I literally laughed out loud. This is totally what I was taught growing up! I remember thinking "WTF" when I had had it about not washing my hair!
I know that Western medicine isn't the answer to everything and doesn't have the answer to many things. But I also do not want to be a superstitious person who believe in something that has no correct and clear explanation of. When it comes to my health, I want to be wise about it and not believe in some traditional notions that have no solid foundation in either Eastern or Western medicine. I do think that drinking cold water affects my menstrual cycle (speaking from experience here) but nobody can prove that drinking cold water is the source of cancers among women! I just want some explanations as to why I can't do this or I can't do that during a certain period of my life.
I will continue to search for the answer and find out for myself if all these things that I was taught and are taught to all Chinese women since who-knows-when are true. For me, this is not just a matter of faith.
update: According to this article, I am experiencing a type of irregular menstrual cycle called "cold in the blood".
What's "cold in the blood"?
"Cold in the Blood. A woman suffering from cycles that become longer and longer apart with scanty dark colored blood may be suffering from cold in the blood. Generally she will also experience abdominal pain which feels better with a heating pad. She would also probably suffer from cold feet and hands. This usually comes from internal invasion of cold, or overeating cold, raw foods or exposure to cold during a period."
Of the 7 ways to keep your menstrual cycle regular suggested by the article, three of them are related to cold water. No cold drinks, no cold food (ice cream, raw veges, raw fruits), and no immersing yourself in cold water (rain or go swimming).