Can acupuncture help with period pain?

by Linyana Gipson

Acupuncture for period pain, Acupuncture uptown manhattan

The term ‘painful periods’ or dysmenorrhea indicates menstrual pain before, during and sometimes after menstruation. Pain occurs in the lower abdomen, lower back and in some women pain extends to the legs. A fair number of women experience painful periods, many opting for over-the-counter medication and in severe cases choosing birth control.

Symptoms of painful periods

In Oriental Medicine, having painful periods are abnormal. When Qi (energy) and Blood flows smoothly, the body naturally rids itself of the endometrial lining within 3-5 days. The normal color of flow is candy apple red and without clots. There is no smell and the viscosity are neither too thick, nor excessively thin.

In most cases, women with painful periods experience the opposite stated above. They experience:

  • Small and large blood clots
  • Dark red, purple, sometimes black blood
  • Thick and heavy flow
  • Pungent smell
  • Sharp and dull/achy abdominal pain

Causes of painful periods

In western medicine painful periods are normal and controlled by monthly pain medication or worse, birth control. In oriental medicine, there’s several causes of period pain.

  • Stagnation of Qi (the energy of the body, more specifically, the uterus with this condition)
  • Stasis of Blood (blood is unable to flow freely)
  • Cold accumulation in the uterus (If your period pain responds well to a heating pad, you may have cold in the uterus causing pain)
  • Damp-heat (especially if you have pain as well as thick blood with pungent smell)

Treating painful periods

When treating women with period pain, we ask many questions to help with diagnosis. Your symptoms are more than just pain.

  • We want to know the character of the pain; is it stabbing, do you have a pronounced feeling of abdominal distention?
  • Is there a pulling sensation, a burning sensation, is there bearing down pain?
  • Does the pain feel better with pressure or worse with pressure? Do you have pain on both sides of the abdomen or is it mainly in the center?

As acupuncturists’, we are very precise about diagnosis and treatment.

In oriental medicine, internal organs have control over many physiological functions that are similar to western medicine, but its functions go beyond western medicine. Acupuncture points are chosen based on channels that are affected. Channels or meridians are like a highway system that extends up and down the body.

There are several main acupuncture channels that are treated when a woman has painful periods. The primary being the Liver channel, the Ren channel and the Chong channel. These are also some of the main channels affected with infertility.

Beneficial acupuncture points include but are not limited to: LV 3, SP 6, SP 10, Ren 6, Ren 4, PC 6, SP 4 and others depending on the diagnostic pattern.

Natural treatments for painful periods

If you are trying to combat period pain at home, there are several simple strategies to try.

First, apply a heating pad to the lower abdomen started 3 days before your cycle begins and avoid eating/drinking cold foods such as ice water, salads and ice cream. Warm the body using ginger or cinnamon tea.

Second, you can do acupressure on yourself. Start with SP 6 - it is located about 3 inches above your inner ankle. Press the area every night for a least 5 days prior to your first day.

Third, sip on chamomile tea throughout the day for at least 5 days prior to your cycle. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that stops the release of prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins are a group of lipids found in our cells that actually causes contractions, inflammation and pain.

Foods that increases inflammation in the body are processed foods, high sugar intake and an over consumption of animal products.

Can acupuncture treat period pain? Acupuncture uptown manhattan

It is possible to have a life without menstrual pain. Before anything, start with your diet. Remember, your cycle only comes around 12 times per year. When you start a regimen at home or when you seek acupuncture treatment, give it time. It will take at least 3-4 cycles to see a difference.

If you have questions or concerns about your health, simply call 646-854-6619.