PAINFUL PERIODS

    As Traditional Chinese Acupuncturists specialising in women’s health, we see a lot of
    women who suffer from painful periods. Women suffering from period pain experience
    abdominal cramping, which can last for several days each month. Pain can be experienced
    prior and during the menstrual cycle. Other symptoms associated with the period pain may
    include breast soreness, digestive complaints, headaches, nausea, skin conditions (such as
    acne) and mood swings. In some cases, the pain can be of such severity that it interferes
    with their daily activities, such as not being able to attend school or work.

    Woman reading magazine

    Dysmenorrhea

    The medical term for period pain is dysmenorrhea, which is classified as either a primary or
    secondary condition. There is no known cause for the primary condition. The secondary
    condition is caused by endometriosis, fibroids or other pelvic inflammatory conditions.
    It has become common to consider period pain as being normal and something that has to
    be lived with. However in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) period pain is not regarded
    as being normal. There is a saying in TCM that where there is pain, there is stagnation.
    Stagnation is the blockage of the flow of qi (energy). During menstruation, the shedding of
    the endometrial lining should be passed with minimal pain. However, if there is stagnation,
    then this causes the blood to congeal which can contribute to the intensity of the pain. The
    stagnation of the blood can be worsened with emotional stress and eating too many raw
    and cold foods.

    Treatment

    Common medical practice is to prescribe Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) to
    manage the pain. This will provide pain relief in the short term, but does not address the
    root cause. Acupuncture is a safe and valid alternative approach to prescribing drugs for
    period pain. Acupuncturists identify the root cause of the pain and devise an individual
    treatment plan for each patient. Such plans include acupuncture, lifestyle and dietary
    advice.
    Research in 2017 shows that “acupuncture treatment reduced the menstrual pain intensity
    and duration after three months of treatment and this was sustained for up to one year after
    trial entry”. (Armour M, Dahlen HG, Zhu X, Farquhar C, Smith CA. 2017). More recent
    research in 2018 suggests that acupuncture may reduce menstrual pain more effectively
    when compared to having no acupuncture treatment or NSAIDs. (Woo HL, Ji HR, Pak YK, et
    al. 2018).
    If you would like to know more about how acupuncture can help you, please contact a
    member of Full Circle who are also registered members of Acupuncture NZ.