Adrienne Irizarry is an Eastern Medicine practitioner with a women's health practice using steam, herbs, sound therapy and Chinese Nutritional Therapy to restore harmony in women's bodies and remedy menstrual issues.
The number one thing that brings women to my practice is, you guessed it: cramps. Cramps are inconvenient. They steal our focus. They slow us down. For some of us, they even cause us to miss work. The sad part? Our culture normalizes cramps and makes it seem like cramping is just part of being a woman and having a period.
Let me tell you a secret: It is possible to have a period without cramping.
Wait, what? Yes. You read that right. It is possible to have a period without cramping. Cramping is your body’s way of waving a flag and saying “I need help!” Pain is your body’s way of telling you it needs support.
What Causes Cramps?
So if pain isn’t SUPPOSED to be a normal part of having a period – why does it happen? One of the biggest culprits for cramping is the use of tampons. I know the convenience of the promise of leak free protection from a tampon is too good to pass up. Insert and forget it without the bulk of a pad, am I right?
When women switch to getting their leak free protection from a menstrual cup see a reduction in their cramping even without changing anything else about how they move through their bleeding days.
Tampons only catch the flushing mechanism (the blood) but it blocks the exit of the lining that the blood is supposed to flush out. When it doesn’t pass during the period it gets “backed up” and your body cramps to try and push it out.
Cramps: Traditional Chinese Medicine Explanation
As we discussed in my article about cysts, pain results from things being “stuck.” When blood and Qi (vital energy) get obstructed and don’t flow properly – pain results. Bloating and nausea can also result from Qi and blood being blocked.
The name of the game during menstruation to prevent this kind of “stuckness” from resulting would be heat.
Warm foods, keeping the abdomen warm and gentle movement all support a healthy period. Any form of cold – cold food, iced beverages and raw foods – force your body to work harder to “warm up” the food to digest it and that taxes the Spleen Qi energy.
In this article (last blog) we talked about the Spleen Qi. Here it is showing up again. Many of the clients I see that have cysts ALSO experience cramps on a regular basis and stuck blood and Qi are at the heart of why this occurs.
Yes, I know the header “Pain Free Period” sounds like a unicorn, but I assure you it is not. My clients are always surprised when their steaming yields a more comfortable period (among other things.)
Steam moves blood and Qi in the body. Steam warms the pelvic floor. Steam moves stuck energy in important areas to relieve emotional PMS symptoms, physical pain like cramping as well as heat and dampness that cause other unfortunate experiences like fibroids, cysts or infections.
Working with a peristeam hydrotherapist, you learn what pattern is showing up in your body and how to use the right herbs and steam heat as well as duration for your body’s needs.