Painful Periods? Help is at Hand.

AcupuncEastern medicine regards the menstrual cycle as a mirror of a women’s health. Menstruation should be painless & accompanied by minimal pre & postmenstrual signs & symptoms. We know that menstruation should be of sufficient volume, a rich fresh color & free from clots. In Western Medicine often menstrual disorders are masked with medication for example the pill, pain killers or IUD’s.  Unfortunately this only serves as a band aid & often the problem is still present when a woman decides to start a family & needs to come off the medication. She may find that getting pregnant is not as easy as Mother Nature intended.

Where possible it is best to deal with menstrual disorders as early as possible so the root of the disharmony can be uncovered allowing a woman to have an increased sense of wellbeing, overall health & protect her fertility for the future.

If there is free flow there is no pain: if there is pain there is no free flow. In Eastern medicine, the uterus & the liver are closely related. The liver maintains the free flow of the Qi or vital energy of the body. Liver Qi stagnation is often associated with PMT. The liver, spleen & kidney channels run through the pelvis & all can effect menstruation. If any of these channels are blocked, congested or deficient, this will usually manifest in women as some sort of menstrual problem.

Here is a quick insight into how Eastern medicine views the menstrual cycle:

– Excess heat or Yang- Menses is extremely bright red Color, short Cycle or Possible Early Menstruation (5 To 7 Days) Blood Is Either Dried up in a Short Cycle (heat drying the fluids), Or Heavy Due To Pushing Force of Heat.

– Chronic Deficient heat or Yin deficiency Menses is Brown or Dark Red, Scanty

-Blood stagnation / long term internal cold- Menses might be dark Purplish, Long Period or No Period Due To Excess Fluids or Cold Respectively. Possible Blood Clots with stabbing pain.

-Yang deficiency / chronic deficient cold condition- Long menstrual cycle, thin, or light colored period. Dull pain that feels better with warmth applied e.g.  Heat pack on the abdomen.  Delayed Menstruation, Irregular or possible skipped cycle (No Cycle)

This is just a very basic guide to what the body reflects as Eastern Medicine is a holistic practice so many other symptoms & signs need to be taken into consideration for a practitioner to decide on the root of your imbalance .

A following example is of a patient who came to see me for period pain.

20 year old girl with painful periods since she was 11years old when menses began.  She was involved in an accident when she was 10 years old & her hip bone was broken. Her period is regular but she suffers from debilitating pain & relies on heavy pain killers every month so she can function. Her period is heavy, dark red with a large number of clots.  She has acne problems & suffers from low self-esteem.  She only passes stools twice a week relying on laxatives.   She also has cold hands & feet indicating poor circulation.  Has regular headaches & stiff, painful shoulders & relies on pain medication regularly.

After 3 treatments with acupuncture & Chinese herbs daily she passes stools every second day, the stiffness in her shoulders has gone.  Her periods are less painful & her skin is clearing up & as a result her self-esteem 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 & her menses & indirectly her skin.  In Eastern medicine there is a close relationship with the large intestine, lungs & skin.  When waste cannot be emptied properly it will be reflected on our skin which is our largest detoxifying organ.  The headaches are caused by a lack of free flow of Qi in the meridians as is the shoulder stiffness & cold hands & feet.  Once the blood & Qi is regulated harmony is restored to the body.

This young girl continues to receive treatment & has given up dependence on pain medication & laxatives.

Women of all ages can benefit from Acupuncture care.  For young women just beginning to menstruate, acupuncture can help relieve cramps and PMS. The menstrual cycle can be comfortable and regular so that it won’t interfere with normal activities.  Your mother may tell you that her period was difficult until she had her first baby. But you don’t have to wait that long. PMS symptoms usually begin to disappear quickly with treatment.  Chronic menstrual problems respond well to more long term care.  Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine restrains heavy bleeding associated with fibroids & endometriosis and relieves pain. For women who are trying to become pregnant, acupuncture sometimes helps solve problems of infertility.  After childbirth, acupuncture & herbal medicine are very helpful in restoring & replenishing the new mother’s energy.  So don’t rely on drugs to mask  your body’s imbalances come & 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