Sadly, so many women suffer every month with painful periods. They suffer in silence, some thinking that this is normal. It is really hard for me to hear women talk about missing work or other activities because they are doubled over in pain. Yes, menstrual cramps start out strong when we are teenagers, but they shouldn’t be debilitating.

Severe menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) usually come on before and continues for a couple of days into the period. Sometimes there is pain even after the period done.  When there is a problem, the pain can vary from intense throbbing or cramping to a dull ache that can be constant.  Some women experience nausea, dizziness, loose stools, and/or headaches along with the cramps.

What Causes Painful Periods?

According to the Mayo Clinic website, “During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining. Hormone-like substances (prostaglandins) involved in pain and inflammation trigger uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps.” However, these extreme cramps can be caused by something else; secondary dysmenorrhea can be due to endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or cervical stenosis. Please, if you have painful periods, go and see your doctor. Don’t suffer thinking it is normal.

How are Painful Periods Viewed in Chinese Medicine?

In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are a few types of imbalances that can bring on these painful periods.

 A secondary dysmenorrhea patient relaxing with needles in place.

  1. Qi and Blood Stasis: Where there is a blockage in the normal flow of Qi (vital energy) and Blood in the body due to trauma, poor lifestyle habits, and/or emotional upset. The pain is usually distending, full and sometimes stabbing. Clots can be deep purple in colour.
  2. Cold Damp Stagnation: This pain feels a bit better with warmth and can feel worse when the patient consumes cold food and drinks.
  3. Qi and Blood Deficiency: This pain is not as intense and may feel better with external pressure. It is worse when you are tired or when you have overextended yourself. This person will have likely have light menstrual flow.

You may not fit any one of these patterns perfectly, but that is the beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine – qualified practitioners know how to tailor the treatment to the type of painful periods you are experiencing.

Acupuncture is a great choice for any kind of menstrual cycle issue, including:

  • Painful periods,
  • Heavy or too light flow,
  • Short, long, irregular or absent cycles,
  • PMS,
  • Infertility.

How Can I Help Myself?

While you are waiting to see your health care specialist of choice, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help ease painful periods:

  • Avoid cold, raw, spicy and processed foods;
  • Avoid iced drinks, coffee and alcohol;
  • Incorporate 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your daily routine;
  • Avoid excessive emotions such as fear, anger and frustration;
  • Do not allow yourself to become fatigued, especially prior to your period;
  • Avoid sex and inversions during your period as this can cause reverse flow of blood.

If you are interested in seeking treatment for painful periods, book an appointment with Thrive Acupuncture. Feel free to email me for more information.