Painful Periods? They don't have to be!
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. 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 compare to the western view on the menstrual cycle.
In western medicine terminology dysmenorrhea is typically caused by increased release of prostiglandins 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 crampng. 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.
Acupressure - Here are 2 of my favorite points to use at home for painful periods.
The first is 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 regulate blood flow and circulation, harmonizes the liver and promotes relaxation.
The second is 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 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.
Nutrition - foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids such as nutes, 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.
Supplementation - 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-inflmmatories to manage it.
I'm Amy! I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist,
registered nurse and expert in anxiety, stress relief, and women's health.
**All information and resources found on balancedstonewellness.com are based on the opinions, experience and research of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to educate and motivate readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their health care provider...even if that provider may be the author ;)