Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) has become so widespread that many women view it as an inevitable part of their monthly cycle. However, experiencing severe symptoms before menstruation is not normal and often signals underlying imbalances in the body. At Thrive Acupuncture in west Edmonton, we believe that no woman should have to suffer through the discomfort of PMS. In this post, we’ll explore why PMS isn’t a natural state and how acupuncture can offer significant relief from its many symptoms as well as get to the root cause and prevent trouble in the future.

Understanding PMS: A Closer Look at the Symptoms

PMS encompasses a wide range of symptoms that typically occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, one to two weeks before menstruation. These symptoms can be broadly categorized into emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms:

Physical Symptoms

  1. Bloating – abdominal swelling and discomfort.
  2. Breast tenderness – swelling, tenderness, or pain in the breasts.
  3. Headaches – increased frequency or intensity of headaches.
  4. Fatigue – feeling unusually tired or lacking energy.
  5. Cramps – lower abdominal or back pain.
  6. Muscle or Joint Pain – generalized discomfort or pain in muscles and joints.
  7. Weight Gain- slight increase in weight due to fluid retention.
  8. Acne – increase in pimples or skin breakouts.
  9. Digestive Issues – constipation or diarrhea.
  10. Food Cravings – increased desire for certain foods, often high in sugar or salt and/or chocolate.
  11. Appetite Changes – general increase or decrease in appetite.
  12. Sleep Disturbances – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  13. Dizziness – feeling lightheaded or unsteady.


Emotional Symptoms

  1. Mood Swings -rapid changes in mood, including sudden sadness or irritability.
  2. Depression – feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
  3. Anxiety – increased feelings of tension, worry, or nervousness.
  4. Crying Spells – unexplained or frequent crying.
  5. Irritability -feeling easily annoyed or angered.


Behavioral Symptoms

  1. Difficulty Concentrating – trouble focusing on tasks or making decisions.
  2. Forgetfulness – increased tendency to forget things.
  3. Social Withdrawal – desire to be alone or avoid social interactions.
  4. Decreased Interest in Activities – loss of interest in activities that are usually enjoyable.
  5. Changes in Libido – increase or decrease in sexual desire.


Other Symptoms

  1. Sensitivity to Light or Sound – heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli.
  2. Hot Flashes – sudden feelings of warmth, often accompanied by sweating.

These symptoms can vary widely in severity and combination from person to person. If PMS symptoms are severe and interfere significantly with daily life, it may be indicative of a more severe form of PMS known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), which often requires medical attention. While mild discomfort might be common, experiencing severe or debilitating symptoms is not normal. These symptoms often indicate an imbalance in the body’s hormonal and energy systems.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to me that so many women are struggling and all they are offered is the antidepressants, pain medication, the birth control pill/IUD or removal of the uterus.  These solutions do not get to the root of the issue and often cause other problems.  Society does not generally give grace to women who are struggling with PMS and women are expected to just carry on as they suffer.

 Hormonal Treatments: Birth control pills, patches, or rings can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. They work by leveling out hormone fluctuations.

 Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil) can be effective in treating mood related PMS symptoms. They may be taken continuously or only during the luteal phase (second half of the menstrual cycle).

 GnRH Agonists: In severe cases, medications like leuprolide (Lupron) can be used to suppress the menstrual cycle and alleviate PMS symptoms. These are typically used as a last resort due to potential side effects.

 

The Root Causes of PMS: Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

From the standpoint of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), PMS is often the result of imbalances in the body’s Qi (energy) and blood flow, particularly affecting the liver and spleen meridians. Several factors can contribute to these imbalances, including:

  • Stress: Chronic stress disrupts the flow of Qi, leading to emotional and physical tension.
  • Poor Diet: Nutritional deficiencies and the consumption of processed foods can impair liver function.
  • Lack of Exercise: Physical inactivity can stagnate the flow of Qi and blood, exacerbating PMS symptoms.
  • Emotional Strain: Unresolved emotional issues can affect the liver meridian, leading to mood swings and irritability.

 

How Acupuncture Can Help Alleviate PMS Symptoms

Acupuncture, a cornerstone of TCM, involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to balance the flow of Qi and blood. Read more about acupuncture here. Here’s how acupuncture can address and alleviate PMS symptoms:

  1. Regulating Hormones: Acupuncture helps balance the endocrine system, stabilizing hormone levels and reducing symptoms like mood swings and irritability.
  2. Improving Blood Flow: By enhancing circulation, acupuncture can alleviate physical symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness.
  3. Reducing Stress: Acupuncture promotes relaxation and reduces stress hormones, mitigating anxiety and emotional distress associated with PMS.
  4. Alleviating Pain: Many women experience cramps and headaches during PMS. Acupuncture has analgesic properties that can effectively relieve these pains.
  5. Enhancing Sleep Quality: Better sleep patterns significantly reduce fatigue and improve overall wellbeing, which are often disrupted during PMS.

 

The Benefits of Acupuncture for PMS

Women who incorporate acupuncture into their health regimen often report significant improvements in their PMS symptoms. Here are some specific benefits observed:

Emotional Stability: Women find that acupuncture helps stabilize their mood, reducing irritability, anxiety, and depression.

Physical Relief: Symptoms such as cramps, bloating, and headaches become less severe and more manageable.

Increased Energy: Improved sleep and reduced fatigue help women feel more energetic and resilient throughout the month.

Overall Wellbeing: Regular acupuncture treatments support overall health, making it easier to maintain a balanced lifestyle that can prevent severe PMS symptoms from recurring.

Here is a journal article describing the effects of acupuncture on painful periods:

Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial – PubMed (nih.gov)

Results: This study showed a significant reduction in all the variables such as the visual analog scale score for pain, menstrual cramps, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, faint, mood changes, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting in the study group compared with those in the control group.

Conclusion: Acupuncture could be considered as an effective treatment modality for the management of primary dysmenorrhea.

 

The Benefits of Acupuncture for PMS

Dietary Changes: Eating a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve mood. Reducing caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and salt intake may also alleviate symptoms.

Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, which are common PMS symptoms.

Stress Management: Techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help manage stress levels.

Calcium: Some studies suggest that calcium supplements (1,200 mg daily) can reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.

Magnesium: Taking magnesium may help with bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness.

Vitamin B6: This vitamin can help with mood symptoms.

 

A Personalized Approach at Thrive Acupuncture in West Edmonton

At Thrive Acupuncture in west Edmonton, we offer personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs. Our acupuncturist conducts a thorough assessment to identify the root cause of your PMS and develops a holistic approach that may include acupuncture, dietary recommendations, and lifestyle adjustments.

 

Testimonials

Here are a few testimonials from our patients who have found relief acupuncture.

“Andrea is incredibly kind and she is truly invested in your health journey. I highly recommend her, it’s been an amazing experience thus far!”
– C.K. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I have been seeing Andrea for a few months and after every session I feel relaxed, calm and amazing. She is very attentive to your well being and makes you feel at ease & comfortable. I highly reccomend seeking out her services!”
– E.S. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Andrea provides a very safe and comfortable environment for acupuncture treatments. Her knowledge and skill are excellent and she truly cares about helping people with their problems and developing a balanced treatment plan for her clients. I have been seeing her for many years and she has successfully helped with a wide assortment of issues I have had.”
– S.S. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Take the First Step Toward a PMS Free Life

If you’re tired of accepting PMS as a normal part of your menstrual cycle, consider acupuncture as a natural and effective solution. Thrive Acupuncture in west Edmonton is dedicated to helping women achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a PMS free life.