Monday, August 15, 2011

Story #349: Period

One of the lectures I always get from my mom over the phone or in person is "Do not drink cold water." I hear the lecture so many times that I can not only memorize it but I can also know when I will hear it exactly.

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!

"wash hair during period

Postby kiekyon » Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:55 am

i received this via email. can't help wondering if it is true?

It has been a traditional theory that ladies are not supposed to wash their hair during their period.

But there are no solutions to the question why?

The victim will only realise at their later stage of their life, facing the symptoms of breast and ovary cancer.

Today ladies still wash their hair during their period with the thinking that they will be safe if they blow dry their hair. But this will not prevent them from getting the cancer. Please read the article below:

A well known Taiwanese medical professor specialise in cancer research based on a Japanese university did a survey on 30,000 pre cancer patients. She found these patients are very choosy in their food, wash their hair during their period and carry heavy object and drink cold drinks. This will course the incomplete of ovulation and the remaining menses will turn into toxic and the imbalance of hormone will lead to ovary and breast cancer. During the research she found the method of prevention to these cancer diseases. The secrets are:


- One must change their lifestyle and eating habits.

- Do not wash our hair while having period, do not wash your hair just for the cooling effect and contraction of ovary.

- Excessive bleeding must be investigated by a gynae.

- No cold drinks.

- If you feel drowsy, breast expansion and constipation, these are the early symptoms of ovary or breast cancer. (me: I have never heard this before but I seriously have had it with people who make up stuff to scare people! Should I go get myself examined by the doctor?? What if I don't and I have cancer???)

To prevent use:

- Black sugar
- Chinese lotus (leng ngau)
- Carrot and Barley

Boil to soup and drink. This is one of the best prevention."
You can find this here. Read the responds. They are hilarious.
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).

It seems like apart from the yin and yang and the Qi explanation, there really isn't any Western explanation for it. I guess if you believe in Qi and that kind of stuff (like my mother-in-law and her mom and step-dad do), then you can probably accept this notion of not drinking cold water and no cold shower during your menstrual period. As for me, I'm staying away from all the cold stuff.

6 comments:

Lia said...

Haha. It is SO funny that all Chinese women think things like that! Even in different countries! My mom (and grandma) always tell me not to drink cold water (so I usually still drink it I just don't put ice so that they don't realize how cold it is) and my mom always tells me that if I ever take birth control pills I will never be able to have a baby! Which . . . plenty of women are on birth control for years and then have perfectly healthy babies!

sara said...

Its so true what chinese says......i had a same problem....but now i got the exact answer......cold stuff and cold water is so bad for all ladies during periods or near periods due date.....

sara said...

I ever have v much regular periods but once drank cold soft drink during periods.....on that time periods continued but i felt clearly something went wrong inside....some heaviness i got inside womb......next time i got delayed periods at 48th day......now these days again i was on periods and had forgotten past experience....i drank chilled water with all days of periods.....believe me this month i didn't get my periods at all.....its about 58th day...... :'(

sara said...

I ever have v much regular periods but once drank cold soft drink during periods.....on that time periods continued but i felt clearly something went wrong inside....some heaviness i got inside womb......next time i got delayed periods at 48th day......now these days again i was on periods and had forgotten past experience....i drank chilled water with all days of periods.....believe me this month i didn't get my periods at all.....its about 58th day...... :'(

sara said...

Its so true what chinese says......i had a same problem....but now i got the exact answer......cold stuff and cold water is so bad for all ladies during periods or near periods due date.....

sara said...

Its so true what chinese says......i had a same problem....but now i got the exact answer......cold stuff and cold water is so bad for all ladies during periods or near periods due date.....