Painful periods are a common occurrence in many women’s lives. This pain is caused by uterine muscle contractions before or during one’s period as the body is preparing to shed the unused lining of the endometrial tissue. This pressure in the uterus can result in abdominal cramping or a dull ache that can extend to the lower back, hips and legs. This discomfort is often accompanied with constipation or diarrhea, nausea, as well as heavy menstrual flow with complete loss of energy.
This can be a completely debilitating experience for women as they are unable to function with the daily pressures of life.
The most common solution given to women are NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), the contraception pill or an IUD. This can assist with temporary relief but the problem will still be there once they come off the medication or the IUD is removed, and often, women are left with significant side effects.
I am commonly asked if acupuncture can help with menstrual period pain and my answer is “YES!”. Pain and disease, explained simply in eastern terms, is due to the lack of blood flow and energy to a specific area, thus creating blockages and, essentially, pain. This energetic flow is commonly referred to as “QI”.
A Chinese saying is “the Qi leads the blood”. This may puzzle many of you, but in eastern thinking it is clear that if the Qi is stuck for long enough then the blood will become stuck also. This is known as “blood stagnation” and a common symptom of blood stagnation is sharp pain and blood clots in one’s menses. Acupuncture works on unblocking these pathways or meridians to restore blood flow and aid the body towards good health.
A following example is of a patient who came to see me for period pain.
A 20-year-old women has had period pain since she was 11 years old when her menses began. She was involved in an accident when she was 10 years old and her hip bone had been broken. Her periods are regular but she suffers from debilitating pain monthly and relies on heavy pain killers every month so she can function. Her menses are heavy, dark red with a large number of clots .She also suffers from acne problems and consequently, low self esteem. She only passes stools twice a week relying on laxatives. She also suffers from cold hands and feet indicating poor circulation. This woman has regular headaches and stiff, painful shoulders; and relies on pain medication regularly.
Her main concerns were obviously the pain but also she knew that relying on drugs long term was no solution. In addition to this, she knew that the laxatives were damaging to her bowels long-term and she observed increasing reliance upon them.
After 3 treatments with acupuncture and Chinese herbs daily, she now passes stools every second day and the stiffness in her shoulders have gone. Her periods are less painful and her skin is clearing up and as a result her self-esteem has greatly improved. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view this young girl is suffering from ‘blood stagnation’ in the lower abdomen. This could have originated when she broke her hip as a child as local trauma can cause long-term circulation issues. This affects her bowels and her menses and indirectly her skin.
This young woman continues to receive regular treatment as has given up dependence on pain medication and laxatives.
In Eastern medicine, there is a close relationship between the large intestine, lungs and skin. When waste cannot be emptied properly it will be reflected in our skin, which is our largest detoxifying organ. Headaches are caused by a lack of free flow of Qi in the meridians, as is the shoulder stiffness and the cold hands and feet. Once the blood and Qi is regulated, then harmony and function is restored to the body.
If you have been looking for another way to deal with your period pain, then Acupuncture is low risk treatment option with no side effects. Its strength is in its ability to treat the root of your imbalance with long lasting results. There is no need to rely on drugs to mask your body’s imbalances.
Come and see for yourself that is another way forward for your body to achieve the balance that it naturally strives for.
I welcome any questions
Christina Noelle Atkins