The Extraordinary Vessels have influence over the menstrual cycle and connect with each other throughout their path. Three vessels that originate from the Kidneys in women and men alike are the Governing Vessel, the Directing Vessel, and the Penetrating Vessel. The Governing Vessel controls Yang in the menstruation cycle, the Directing Vessel controls Yin, and the Penetrating Vessel controls Blood. These vessels are said to stem from the same vessel, but split into three.

Penetrating Vessel

The most important vessel is the Penetrating Vessel as it controls the 12 channels including the 5 Yin and the 6 Yang Organs. It is the Sea of Blood that comes from the Kidneys with a strong influence over the body: the only exception is the arms. This vessel nourishes and aids the flow of Blood within the Uterus, and directs menstruation. A healthy Penetrating Vessel encourages the growth of body hair and the maintenance of skin.

Its path from between the Kidneys continues after Dong Qi towards the Uterus and to the Ren-1 Huiyin where the Penetrating, Governing and Directing Vessel meet. Continuing from this conjoining point, the Penetrating Vessel reaches the ST-30 Qi chong, flows to the KI-21 Youmen, to the throat, around the mouth and to the forehead. From Ren-1, there are other different branches. This includes a branch that flows from inside the spine until BL-23 Shenshu. This is the reason why some women feel pain in their lower back. Another branch comes from ST-30 in the inner leg to the inner part of the foot. Women may experience pain in their legs during menstruation for this reason.

From the inner part of the foot, the vessel splits into two branches, including the Spleen channel that reaches the big toe and the Kidney Channels. If the Penetrating Vessel is prosperous alongside the other vessels, menstruation continues at a regular cycle.

The Penetrating Vessel alongside the Directing Vessel balances the functions of the uterus and menstruation. The Vessel treats conditions of dysmenorrhoea in blood stagnation, irregular periods, premenstrual tension, menorrhagia, and amenorrhoea in emptiness. The Penetrating Vessel has the same points as the Sea of Blood, including BL-11 Dashu, ST-37 Dajuxu, and ST-39 Xiajuxu. 

Directing Vessel

The Uterus, the reproductive system and problems within the internal and external women genitalia, relates to the Directing Vessel. The path of the Vessel starts from within the Kidneys, through the uterus and arrives at the Ren-1 Huiyin. The Directing Vessel points upwards and reaches Ren-24 Chengjiang where it circles the mouth and reaches ST-1 Chengqi.

The Directing Vessel governs Yin, Essence, and fluids and provides them for women during physiological processes. This is what makes the Directing Vessel the Sea of the Yin channels.

The vessel nourishes Yin within the body primarily after menopause, and reduces the effects of Empty Heat from Yin deficiency. The Penetrating Vessel controls Qi which tonifies, but the Directing Vessel controls Blood that can move Qi and discard any altercations. The Directing Vessel has more responsibility for the processes of women’s physiology, meanwhile the Penetrating Vessel contains menstruation and irregularities.

Governing Vessel

From between the Kidneys, the Governing Vessels pass through the Uterus, go to the pubic bone, and into the vagina. It then rises to the perineum at the Ren-1 Huiyin, arrives at the buttocks and reaches Du-1 Changqiang. The path then reaches the Kidneys and the Bladder through the upper thighs. It then continues to the spine and through the base of the skull to reach the brain. From here the vertex is in the midline of the upper lip that ends in Du-28 Yinjiao.

The Governing Vessel has a path that leads upwards, and a path that leads down to the Liver channel

The “main” vessel is a branch of the governing vessel that starts at the abdomen, to the umbilicus, passing the heart, to the throat, the chin and lips, and surrounding the eyes. 

The Governing and Directing Vessels could be considered same vessel that stem off into different branches. The Directing Vessel mainly treats problems with genitalia, however, the Governing Vessel can treat it too. In Kidney Yang deficiency, the Directing Vessel treats pathology. The Governing Vessel controls the cycle of the Kidney Yang during menstruation and represents the Governing Vessel, the Fire of the Gate of Life (Ming Men), and the Minister Fire. The Governing Vessel and the Directing Vessel connect the Uterus, the Kidneys, Heart, and Brain. For this reason, there is an emotional and mental connection with menstruation. There is a connection with the Essence, Blood, Marrow and the Sea of Marrow.

Girdle Vessel

As opposed to the vertical Vessels mentioned, the Girdle Vessel is horizontal. It is the vessel that connects with Post and Pre Natal Qi. The path of the vessel passes through the points G.B.-26 Daimai, G.B.-27 Wushu, G.B.-28 Weidao, and LIV-13 Zhangmen, and intersects with the Kidney divergent channel.

The vessel connects with the Leg channel, restraints the Liver’s smooth flow of Qi, the ascension of the Spleen and the Kidney’s nourishment of the Essence and the movement of Qi. In order to function properly, the vessel must be relaxed and stretched. Without the restraint on the Liver, pathology forms as Damp-Heat from Spleen deficiency and may even cause leucorrhoea. The lack of restraint on Essence, the Spleen Qi sinks and Postnatal Qi becomes obstructed. The three vessels, the Directing, the Governing, and the Penetrating Vessel become deficient.

The Girdle Vessel is connected with the Directing Vessel in deficiency, where the vessel becomes loose. This affects the Kidneys and Liver: they also become deficient. With a loose vessel Qi cannot rise, the uterus may prolapse, there’s possible miscarriage and the fetus may lose stability. Post and Prenatal Qi deficiency and descension of Qi becomes disturbed. It is also connected with the Penetrating Vessels in excess. The Directing and Governing Vessels pass through the Girdle Vessel, link with the Heart, the genital system, the Umbilicus and the Penetrating Vessel. 

Yin Stepping Vessel

Lastly, the Yin Stepping Vessel is another vessel that aids the reproductive system. It travels from KI-6 Zhaohai then along the leg, the abdomen, the genitalia, to the chest, throat until it reaches the eye. Treating this vessel can aid in the pathology of the lower burner this includes abdominal masses, delivery and retention of placenta. It also treats the outside of the genitals since it’s path goes through the external genitalia.