So many women are suffering from painful periods. In fact, more than half of women who menstruate have pain during their periods at some point. This pain is referred to as dysmenorrhea and ranges in intensity and duration.
Painful periods can be caused by many different factors, but to simplify things, in Chinese medicine, it is most often caused by stagnation. This stagnation of qi and blood, with a background of either deficiency or excess is causing pain.
CHINESE MEDICINE VS WESTERN MEDICINE
There are several meridians involved in menstrual cycle health and regularity. Stay tuned for a more detailed post on the Chinese medicine theory on the menstrual cycle as it compares to the Western view on the menstrual cycle.
In Western medicine terminology, dysmenorrhea is typically caused by increased release of prostaglandins and can also be a result of conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, or fibroids. The uterine lining releases prostaglandins in response to the triggering of your period. If these levels are too high, there can be increased pain, discomfort and cramping. In conditions such as endometriosis, the lining of the uterus that is growing outside the uterine walls, responds to hormones and can cause adhesions to other tissues which can create pain.
In the clinic a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion and sometimes cupping are employed to help treat painful periods, but there are also a lot of things you can do at home to help.
Here are 2 of my favorite points to use at home for painful periods.
- San Yin Jiao, Spleen 6: It is located on the inside of the ankle about 3 finger width distance up from the malleolus (ankle bone). It regulates blood flow and circulation, harmonizes the liver and promotes relaxation.
Di Ji, Spleen 8: it is located on the inside of the calf, next to the shin bone, about 1 hands width below the knee. It regulates blood flow and the uterus to stop pain.
Acupressure can be applied to these points, on each leg for 30 sec to 1 minute as needed to help reduce pain during your period. You can also use them in the days leading up to your period to try and prevent pain.
Foods that are high in omomega-3atty acids such as nuts, seeds, eggs, and salmon can help reduce prostaglandin levels. Also, reducing foods that trigger inflammation can help reduce pain during your period so try avoiding processed foods, dairy, gluten, and sugar.
My go to here is Chinese herbal medicine, but, you really need to see an herbalist for formulas specific to your constitution in treating menstrual cycle pain or irregularities. Besides Chinese herbs, magnesium can be really helpful. Since it helps to relax smooth muscle and reduce systemic prostaglandins, it can help reduce pain during your period.
You may have been told that some pain is normal during your period, but it doesn't have to be and you have options that don't include always reaching for over the counter anti-inflammatories to manage it.
Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider. This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease. That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options. If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on email@example.com.