Are you curled up in bed for a day or more each month with one thought: What will I do about these period cramps? Why do I have heavy bleeding with severe, painful menstrual cramps that seem to be getting worse and worse? Why do I have spotting in between my menstrual periods? My ovaries hurt, I feel abdominal pain after sex; it even hurts to go to the bathroom. You are not alone, as 50% of menstruating women have the same experience month after month. And if you have excruciating period cramps or bad back pain during any part of the menstrual cycle, it may mean you have endometriosis. But why suffer when you could be living pain-free? NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) only mask the pain for a few short hours.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, on the other hand, have been used for centuries with well-documented results to provide menstrual cramp relief, restore normal periods, and balance hormones.
An international nonprofit organization known as the Cochrane Collaboration studied the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in relieving menstrual pain compared to western drugs. Their conclusion: Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea roughly doubled pain relief and improvement in overall symptoms compared with conventional Western pharmaceuticals, reported Xiaoshu Zhu.
Chinese Medicine has identified that menstrual pain can have a few different types of causes:
Blood stagnation causes sharp stabbing pain and is accompanied by dark menstrual blood with clots.
Blood deficiency causes dull pain that is worse towards the end of the period or after the period is over. It is usually accompanied by fatigue and pallor.
Cold accumulation is often caused by overconsumption of cold foods and drinks, obstructing blood flow and oxygen flow to the uterus. Cold accumulation results in blood stasis which causes sharp stabbing pain. Cold accumulation also enhances the contraction of the uterine muscles, which contributes to intense pain.
What Causes Period Cramps?
Period cramps occur due to the contraction of the muscular walls of the uterus. During your period, the walls contract vigorously to shed the uterine lining, compressing the blood vessels lining your uterus.
This causes the blood and oxygen supply to your uterus to be temporarily blocked, resulting in the release of pain-triggering chemicals. In addition, prostaglandins, which further stimulate the contraction of the uterus, are also produced, hence intensifying the period cramps.
Interesting preliminary research has found that people with high levels of stress are more than twice as likely to report having painful menstruation.
How Can You Ease Painful Cramps?
We specialize in treating women’s health issues, and our advice to our Healing Elephant patients who suffer from menstrual cramps is as follows:-
- Exercise regularly. Even if only gentle walking or yoga, exercise increases endorphins which are your body’s natural pain killer.
- Acupuncture treatment can help relieve your cramps. We will often use a herbal treatment called moxibustion to warm the uterus from the outside of your belly, especially if your uterus is cold. This is very effective in soothing menstrual cramp pain.
- Taking the correct Chinese herbs for your unique symptoms can bring relief. Ask us for our help in suggesting a natural pain reliever formula that will be suitable for you.
- Several studies have examined how Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to improve menstrual cramping. Rosita Cod Liver Oil is a quality that we recommend.
- Magnesium supplements help with blood flow and relax muscles. Our favorite is from Ancient Minerals. We like topical magnesium in the form of lotion, oil, and bath soak.
- Taking Vitamin E for 3 days before the period is due until the 3rd day of the period helped to relieve cramps. This is because the cramps result from the release of substances called prostaglandins. Their purpose is to make the uterus contract to expel the uterine lining. Vitamin E can inhibit the production of prostaglandins and therefore help menstrual cramps. We favor a whole food Vitamin E such as this one.
- Avoid consuming cold and raw foods such as ice cream and sushi, as they are overly cold in nature
- Keep your belly and feet warm to prevent the cold from entering your body
- Hot baths before you start bleeding will alleviate severe cramps during your period. Adding magnesium and soothing aromatherapy oils such as lavender will enhance the effect
- Don’t swim when you are menstruating as it introduces cold into your uterus and affects menstrual bleeding
- Try avoiding over-the-counter pain relievers. Rather, use the pain to seek more holistic help and fix your pelvic pain for good. The pain relievers give you temporary relief. They are not fixing the problem.
What Pressure Points Can Relieve Period Cramps?
Apart from visiting a Chinese Medicine practitioner, you can also massage yourself to relieve your period cramps and relax the muscle contractions. Locate the acupoints on google and then massage them each for 60-90 seconds.
Here are 3 acupoints that can help relieve your period cramps:
- Large Intestine 4 is the tender spot located between your thumb and index finger. It helps to relieve pain.
- Liver 3 is in the tender webbing between the knuckles of the big and second toe. It helps to move stagnant energy and relieve emotional stress.
- Spleen 6 is located on the inside of your leg just above your ankles. It helps to relieve period cramps.
What Can I Expect During an Acupuncture Treatment for Period Cramps?
Your physician will assess you and your body health before creating a comprehensive treatment plan for you based on your diagnosis. This treatment plan may consist of acupuncture, herbal therapy, diet, and lifestyle changes. It would also be helpful to have a log of your previous menstrual cycles so your physician could factor that into her treatment plan for you.
Acupuncture treatment typically starts 5-7 days before the start of your menstrual cycle. Depending on your condition, your treatment will last 2-4 months. Each treatment will last approximately 20-30 minutes. Weekly acupuncture treatments are also recommended to maintain regular menstrual cycles. What is great is that this treatment style is very successful, and you can have peace of mind knowing that you do not need to suffer forever.
Are you interested in scheduling an appointment for support to relieve period pain? Contact us to schedule an appointment today.